By Rick Reeno
The gym rats in Las Vegas are buzzing. Not about the upcoming fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Juan Manuel Marquez. And not about the November clash between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto. Two weeks after it happened, the local gym rats and numerous Las Vegas insiders are still chatting, without rest, about the sparring session between Mayweather and undefeated junior welterweight Lamont Peterson.
With many of these gym stories, there is a lot truth and also a lot of fabrication. The recent story going around, about Mayweather working Peterson over until he quit, was one of those stories with a lot of fabrication. A trainer for one of Mayweather's current sparring partners sent a recent gym report to Doug Fischer, the editor for RingTV.com. In that report, the trainer disclosed his fighter's account of the Mayweather-Peterson sparring session.
“FLOYD IS MORE THAN READY FOR MARQUEZ. HIS HAND SPEED, REFLEXES, CONDITIONING, TIMING AND RHYTHM ARE ALL THERE. MY FIGHTER TOLD ME THAT LAMONT PETERSON SHOWED UP AT FLOYD’S GYM TWO WEEKS AGO TRYING TO MAKE A NAME FOR HIMSELF. AFTER VERBALLY ABUSING EACH OTHER FOR 30 MINUTES WHILE PUTTING ON THEIR HANDWRAPS, THEY WENT EIGHT 4-MINUTE ROUNDS WITH 15 SECONDS REST, WHICH WAS A SPARRING SESSION WORTH PAYING FOR ACCORDING TO MY FIGHTER. AFTER EIGHT ROUNDS, LAMONT COULDN'T GO NO MORE BECAUSE OF FATIGUE. THAT’S WHEN FLOYD REALLY STARTED TAUNTING HIM SAYING TO HIM ‘ANOTHER ROUND, ANOTHER ROUND!’ WHEN LAMONT REFUSED TO GO ANOTHER ROUND, THAT’S WHEN THE VERBAL ABUSE WENT TO RECORD LEVELS IN THE MAYWEATHER CAMP. NAME CALLING AND VERBAL ABUSE CONTINUED TO BE DIRECTED AT LAMONT FOR ANOTHER 10 MINUTES.”
There were many who were impressed after reading that bit of information. I was impressed until I spoke with a well-known insider in Las Vegas, who told me - "You heard what? That's not true. I know several guys who were there and Lamont Peterson worked Mayweather over." After making several more calls to my contacts in Vegas, it became embarrassing to even repeat the above story.
Then I began to dig.
I got a hold of one individual who was actually there. He completely backed the version of the story where Peterson handled his business and sent shockwaves in the Mayweather gym. Due to a friendly relationship with the Mayweather team, the person asked to remain anonymous.
"Lamont did his thing. If anybody got their ass kicked - it was Floyd. Lamont went to town on the boy. Make no mistake, it was competitive and exciting to watch."
Then I dug some more.
The hunt led me to Team Peterson member Jeff Miller. He was present for the sparring and backed the story of my sources. After showing him a copy of the story floating around the net, with Mayweather making Lamont quit, he advised me to contact Peterson's trainer/manager Barry Hunter.
I then made my way to Hunter. Coincidentally, Hunter had heard about the story Monday night through his wife - and I didn't blame him for being animated at times during our conversation. He couldn't believe that so many people were running with the story - without speaking to both sides.
The two days of sparring took place by chance. Lamont, Hunter and their entourage were in town for Anthony Peterson's fight at the Hard Rock. They were looking to get in some sparring work. A mutual friend, former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, made a suggestion to head over to the Mayweather Gym. Rahman made the call and got them the green light.
Hunter was more than ready to set the record straight.
"That's bullsh*t. There were several people in the gym. If you are going to put the story out there, at least tell the truth. We weren’t even going to speak about it. I had a few people ask me about it and I said 'I plead the fifth.' The first day was real hostile. They went to war the first day. Lamont had 18-ounce gloves on and Floyd had on 14-ounce gloves. They went 8 to 10 4-minute rounds with 15 to 30 second rests. The first day was relatively even, the second day Lamont did his thing," Hunter told BoxingScene.com
"Keep in mind, Lamont was out of shape with 18-ounce gloves on. I have to tell you, it was unbelievable to watch. I wish I had a tape to show you. They thought after the first day we weren't coming back but we went right back. The second day, Lamont was off the chain. It was raw, uncut and things they said to each other you certainly wouldn’t say in a church. They, meaning the uncle and father, thought that was the best work that Floyd ever got. The combinations, the skill, it was unbelievable to watch those two.
“Lamont did not go there to make a name for himself. Lamont is not a stranger to sparring former and current world champions. I'll keep the names a secret but it wasn't the first time he went into someone's backyard and put it on. I can't take nothing away from Floyd, he can fight. What got him is this. The average person Floyd spars can't hold a candle to him. But Lamont is a world champion like Floyd, not some sparring partner. And I think it caught Floyd off-guard. If they ever show a tape of that, his reign of terror will be over."
I asked Hunter about one version of the story where Peterson, prior to the start of the last round of their second day of sparring, went after Mayweather with a vengeance. That incident did take place but contrary to some of the stories, it was Hunter who stopped the sparring after the situation began to intensify.
"We said 'one more round,’ and they said 'one more round. ' Floyd went to go drink some water and Lamont went right to him and hit him. He didn't want no breaks. Lamont went into his bang of tricks in that round. I remember there was one punch he threw where it looked like a pitcher was winding up to throw a ball, and he threw a bodyshot. Then it was getting a bit heated,” Hunter said.
“Lamont is one of the toughest men I've ever known in my life. He took off his head gear and wanted to fight without head gear. They went in the middle of the ring, face to face, talking back and forth. I went in and got him and I took him out because now it was beyond fighting. I stopped it and that's the truth."
Peterson will get his big chance at the spotlight when he challenges WBO junior welterweight champion Timothy Bradley on December 5. I’ve spoken to a few on my respected colleagues about Bradley-Peterson. The predictions are literally split down the middle - an early indicator of a great fight.