By Rick Reeno
During the last few weeks, WBA/IBF junior welterweight champion Lamont Peterson was facing a big problem - but it was the kind of problem that put a smile on his face. Peterson had two lucrative fight offers on the table. On one end - Top Rank offered a two-fight package which included a big pay-per-view main event with former three division world champion Juan Manuel Marquez, which would have taken place on July 14th at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. On the other end - Golden Boy Promotions was offering a lucrative package for a rematch with Amir Khan.
On Thursday, Golden Boy announced that an agreement was reached with Peterson - and the rematch between Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) and Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs) will take place on May 19th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. HBO will televise the contest.
And the end of the day, Peterson's trainer/manager Barry Hunter told BoxingScene.com that a rematch with Khan was the "best overall" deal for his boxer. Peterson, who earned $650,000 for the first contest, will make substantially more for the rematch. And Khan sweetened the pot by agreeing to a 50-50 split of the worldwide revenues. It wasn't an easy decision, as a win over Marquez could have guaranteed Peterson a fall clash with Manny Pacquiao.
"Both of them would have been great fights. The Marquez fight would have been a great fight, and the end of the rainbow we could have got a guarantee for Manny Pacquiao, and I guess Marquez felt the same way [about the fight]. But ultimately we felt this was a better deal and this was the fight that Lamont wanted. Overall, the opportunity was better. It was one of those things where we looked at all of the other deals, because there was more than just two. And this one made the better sense to us. And at the end of the day, this is what Lamont wanted," Hunter told BoxingScene.com.
"We spoke to [Top Rank CEO] Bob [Arum], myself and Lamont, and in the last two weeks we've been communicating with Golden Boy. We had two deals on the table. We went back and forth on them to make sure that it was the right decision for Lamont. He maintained throughout, that he would love to fight Khan again, and/or Marquez. With Marquez, at the end of the tunnel you get Pacquiao. And Lamont has always been a fan of Marquez, This guy is going into the Hall of Fame one day. When we got all of that out of the way, we ended up making what we feel is the best decision for his future."
On December 10th in Washington, DC, Peterson won a controversial twelve round split decision to capture the IBF/WBA titles from Khan. Initially, the Staples Center in Los Angeles was proposed for the rematch, but both boxers were comfortable with a Las Vegas venue.
"Vegas is a place that we are used to and a place that we know, so we were more comfortable in Vegas than maybe at the Staples Center. And that's not to say that we wouldn't have fought at the Staples Center but Vegas is a place that Lamont knows and he's fought there before, and so has Amir. So I think it was a mutual agreement," Hunter said.
Hunter expects a much better Khan in the rematch, so Peterson has to fix his mistakes from the first outing and make the proper adjustments.
"There is always room for improvement. We've never underestimated anybody in the fight game, from all the way to the bottom and up to the top. Definitely we are going to go back and look at the fight. We are going to go back and see what our strong suits were and concentrate on our weaknesses. I'm quite sure they are going to do the same thing. And we'll make adjustments accordingly," Hunter said.