WASHINGTON - Lamont Peterson, who is finally set to defend the title he took from Britain's Amir Khan in controversial fashion 14 months ago, says his long layoff will not be a problem against Kendall Holt next week.
Peterson won a controversial split decision over Khan in Washington, and his World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation junior welterweight titles, after the Englishman was twice penalised a point for pushing. A planned rematch last May was called off after Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone.
The WBA restored its crown to Khan but the IBF accepted an appeal by Peterson.
When Zab Judah bowed out as mandatory challenger for another bout, Holt had his title chance and Peterson, who is 30-1-1 with 15 knockouts, finally had an opponent. The two will meet on February 22 in Peterson's home town of Washington.
"To me it feels great to get back into the ring," Peterson said. "The layoff did not hurt me because I've been in the gym training like I was going to fight for the past year.
"I don't believe in ring rust. A fighter fights and that's what I do. But one good thing with the time off is that I have been able to rest my body and work on fine-tuning my skills. I'm ready to fight now."
Holt, the former World Boxing Organisation junior welterweight champion, is also coming off a long layoff following right shoulder surgery 11 months ago.
"My shoulder is 100 percent healthy and I feel fantastic," Holt said. "The explosiveness is there and I'm punching harder than ever. I feel more confident in my ability to back up my opponents. I feel like a whole new man."