By Jake Donovan
It was never a fight they didn’t want, just one where Lamont Peterson’s handlers demanded greater incentive in order to accept.
In the wake of his rising from two knockdowns to rally back to a draw against Victor Ortiz, Peterson – who had just signed with Golden Boy Promotions – was offered what many considered to be a grand opportunity in the form of an April showdown with top super lightweight Amir Khan on HBO.
There was a catch – Peterson would have to travel to Khan’s homeland of England, and for a payday that wasn’t quite as appealing as most made out to be the case.
Peterson’s handlers, including trainer and father figure Barry Hunter, pushed for a better deal and ultimately walked away once he sensed the terms were never going to be right. His decision was mocked by many in the industry as foolishly throwing away such an opportunity, even more so once it was learned that Peterson would instead land on ESPN2 for a five-figure payday against Victor Cayo.
Their instincts turned out to be correct, however. Peterson still landed the dream fight with Khan. Only rather than traveling to the UK, the American contender gets to keep it close to home for the holidays, as it’s Khan who has to travel to his opponent’s D.C. backyward for their December 10 showdown, which airs live on HBO.
As for the path that led them to this point - one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, is basically how the Peterson camp view the situation.
“The one thing I’ve always taught Lamont is to never prostitute himself for a dollar bill,” Hunter explained of the figurative life lessons he taught to Lamont and younger brother Anthony Peterson after rescuing them from homelessness in the rough D.C. streets.
“I look at it like this; doesn’t matter who is the bigger fighter, once the bell rings they both taking the same risk. Lamont was going to make a fraction of what Khan got – to agree to that and for them to take the same chances made no sense at all.”
Khan instead fought Paul McCloskey on HBO, scoring a six-round technical decision. Three months later, he traveled to Vegas and scored a one-sided fifth round stoppage of Zab Judah to reaffirm his position as among the best 140 lb. fighters in the world, if not the very best.
Meanwhile, Peterson was still the guy who fought to a draw with Ortiz – who won a welterweight belt in his very next fight with a win over Andre Berto – and lost a lopsided decision in a fun fight against Tim Bradley one year prior.
He remained that guy even after scoring a 12th round knockout of Victor Cayo on ESPN2 this past July. Once again, Hunter was roundly criticized for the decisions he made on his fighter’s behalf. Once again, he paid it no mind.
“People said we were crazy for fighting Cayo for a little than Khan for what they thought was a lot,” Hunter admits. “But now we got the right fight for the right dollar amount, and (Khan) is coming to our hometown. We went from being the village idiot to looking like geniuses.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]