by David P. Greisman
The offer wasn’t right.
Lamont Peterson had turned down a chance to face Amir Khan for a junior-welterweight world title, unhappy with the money that was being offered him.
That move has worked out for him. Now he is facing Khan for what he says are the terms he wanted. And he is also facing Khan on Dec. 10 in Peterson’s hometown of Washington, D.C.
In this interview with BoxingScene.com, the 27-year-old with a record of 29-1-1 (15 knockouts) talks about fighting in D.C., says what he sees in Amir Khan, and looks toward what the future brings should he score the big victory in a few weeks.
BoxingScene.com: How does it feel to be fighting in your hometown?
Peterson: “It’s a big deal to me, winning the world title in front of my friends and family, just giving everybody the chance to motivate me to a championship, to support me to the championship. And when it’s all said and done, and I do win the championship, we can all celebrate together.”
BoxingScene.com: You’ve only fought in D.C. twice before. Do you wish you’d been promoted at home more?
Peterson: “Yeah. But fighting in Vegas and other places like that, and Memphis, it wasn’t bad. You gain fans all over the country, fighting around. But I do wish I would have fought more at home, at least once maybe every year, to feel the support.”
BoxingScene.com: You had a chance to fight Amir Khan before, but you’d said the terms weren’t good enough for you.
Peterson: “That’s exactly what happened. We were not happy with the contract. We had another option to go. We went with the other option. The other option was to take the fight with [Victor] Cayo and force Khan to fight on better terms for us, and that’s exactly what happened.”
BoxingScene.com: Size up Amir Khan for people…
Peterson: “He’s a good fighter. Fast. Tall. He’s a volume puncher, decent punching power, and he just try to out-hustle you. That’s his whole thing is to out-punch you to win the fight.
“Of course that’s my job —to slow him down and make sure that if that’s the way he want to win the fight, I want to make sure that’s not something he can do often in the fight.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you need to do to beat him?
Peterson: “Just be smart. Of course, you know, not let him out-punch me. I don’t want to fight his game. But still just let him know that I’m there to fight. Just stay smart and stick to the game plan that we’ve been going over and over again at the gym.
BoxingScene.com: Does this fight go the distance?
Peterson: “It could very well go the distance, but if there’s a knockout I wouldn’t be surprised.”
BoxingScene.com: I ask because some people believe that Khan has a glass jaw. Do you go into this fight believing that, or do you not want to get caught up in that line of thinking?
Peterson: “No, I’m not going to get caught up in it. The way I see it is this: He throws a lot of punches, and that means your hands are not at your chin. So he’s going to give you a lot of opportunities to knock him out. Because he put his chin on the line so much, there’s a good chance he can get caught with power shots and possibly get knocked out.
“But I’m not out there just looking for it. I just want to stick to my game plan. If I catch him clean, and he’s hurt, I’m definitely going for the kill. But for the most part, I’m okay with it going 12 rounds.”
BoxingScene.com: Your brother, Anthony, is on the undercard. Is it distracting at all when he is fighting, or is it better for you?
Peterson: “During the training, it’s better for me, because he’s going to help push me and I’m going to help push him. But when it comes down to fight night, whoever fights last, that’s the one that all the weight and emotions and everything falls on.
“Because a lot of times you’re sitting here in the back, and he’s fighting, I’m worried about him. I want to know if he’s winning, I want to know how he’s doing, if he’s okay. I’m sitting back there and instead of focusing on my fight, I’m focusing on his fight.
“That night it’s going to be me. We’ve been around this game a long time. We’re men now. We understand the game. I don’t think there’ll be any distraction. I’m going to just try to relax and focus on what I need to focus on and have faith that he’ll go in there and take care of his business.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you take anything from Amir Khan’s recent fights, be it the struggles he had with Marcos Maidana or the way he beat Zab Judah?
Peterson: “I’m trying not to take away nothing from his last last two fights with [Paul] McCloskey and Zab. They’re southpaw fighters, different fighters from me, so I don’t think there’s too much to learn form that.
“But with Maidana, I learned some things from there —when Khan fight at his best, when he don’t. I know when he’s backing up … he’s not as effective as he is coming forward. I’m just trying to look at things like that and figure things out for me. I’m learning from that fight more than any other fight.”
BoxingScene.com: What does a win over Amir Khan do for your career?
Peterson: “It takes it to the next level. I’ve been on this stage before, first time with Timothy [Bradley] and I lost the fight. Second time [with Victor Ortiz] it as a draw. Each time I’m learning more and more. This time I expect to win.
“I’m not saying that Khan isn’t one of those guys that’s on the next level, but it just puts me there. That’s where I want to be. Lining up fights to fight the best fighters out there, either at 140 or 147.”
BoxingScene.com: You want to go to welterweight?
Peterson: “I can definitely fight at 147. Sometimes I get up to 160 and higher, so I feel good at 147. I think I’ll fight with more energy and actually be stronger at 147. I can easily make 140, too, but it takes more out of me to make ’40 than ’47. ’47 is no problem for me at all.”
BoxingScene.com How long until you move up?
Peterson: “The sooner, the better — but if there’s better fights at 140, I’ll stay.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org