by David P. Greisman
When junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson steps into the ring on Jan. 25 against Dierry Jean, it will be Peterson’s first fight back in eight months, dating back to his third-round technical knockout loss to Lucas Matthysse.
Peterson’s trainer, spoke with BoxingScene.com on Jan. 12 about the Jean fight, rebounding from the Matthysse loss, and much more.
BoxingScene.com: How much do you know about Dierry Jean, and what fights have you been looking at in preparation?
Hunter: “I don’t recall the fight that I actually saw. I saw a couple clips on him. I’d say that he’s a pretty decent little fighter. Comes forward. The fight that I did see, he just stayed in and threw a lot of combinations. But he’s a decent fighter. But it’s nothing that we’ve not seen before, either in the amateurs or the pros.
“Not a whole lot of surprises, from what I can see, unless he tries to bring something different to the table, which they do a lot of times. But in the heat of battle, you tend to convert back to your comfort zone, which is what he normally does. So whatever they bring to the table, we’ll try to have a counter for it.”
BoxingScene.com: When I spoke to Lamont several weeks ago, he described Jean as a fighter he felt does a lot of things good, but that there wasn’t anything that stood out about him. Does that match up with what you’ve seen?
Hunter: “Yeah, totally. I didn’t see one thing that he specializes in that is great. But he does, like Lamont said, a lot of things good.”
BoxingScene.com: From a trainer’s perspective, what does it take to get your fighter to bounce back the way that you’re seeking to do with Lamont right now?
Hunter: “Well, in our case, this is boxing, and at any given time anybody can suffer a loss. You go back to the great ones like Ray Robinson, Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns, Benitez, Duran. All of these are Hall of Fame fighters, and all of them have something in common: Each and every one of them suffered a loss. Some of them suffered multiple losses. So the type of fighter Lamont is, his thing is ‘Just fight.’ He loves to fight. Win, lose or draw, every time he goes out there, he tries to go out there and do his best. So I don’t think we’ll have no problem with that.”
BoxingScene.com: Did you notice any change in Lamont’s temperament or demeanor when he returned to the gym after the loss?
Hunter: “I know one of our strong suits early on in our career is that we were more cerebral than anything. I think he’s getting back to more of the sweet science of the sport, which is boxing. The fights leading up to the Lucas [Matthysse] fight, most of the time in our fights we had to hunt our opponent down. So he kind of got used to that and got away from what got us there in the first place. I think you’ll see more boxing this time. And if push comes to shove, if it gets on the line, of course we can always fight our way out.”
BoxingScene.com: Like you said, a guy like Kendall Holt is more of a counter-puncher. Do you see Dierry Jean as more of a come-forward fighter?
Hunter: “Kinda, sorta. I’ve seen a little bit of both in him. It all depends on who he’s facing also. A lot of times when you go into a situation like that, fighting for or defending the world title, it’s different. Lamont’s been in there. He’s been in the bigger fights. He’s been in with the Victor Ortizes, the [Timothy] Bradleys and Matthysses, the Amir Khans. No disrespect to this young man from Canada, but he’s never faced a fighter like Lamont before. So it’s different.
“When you face somebody who’s been there before, for the most part every dog’s going to bite in his back yard, but with the gate open, would you bite? We’re definitely going to bite outside of our fence. So I’m going to look forward to see what he does.”
BoxingScene.com: Lamont’s spoken before about how great it is to perform in front of a hometown crowd. From your perspective as a trainer, do you see any distraction from Lamont when he’s fighting at home, or is it almost better for him to be training at home before and up to a fight night?
Hunter: “There has been a little bit of both at one time. But during the times that we are preparing for a fight here in the city, it’s almost like we’re away because we don’t stay at home. We get away, because we don’t want those distractions. The last couple of fights that he’s had here, it seems like he’s actually energized from the crowd. That was on my mind when we first came back, because we had been on the road for so long in the amateurs and in the pros. I didn’t know what it’d be like, if there’d be any added burden of fighting at home. But thus far, he seems to have been successful here, so we’re looking forward to it again.”
BoxingScene.com: Lamont doesn’t stay at home?
Hunter: “We usually move out until the fight is over with, and then we go back home. Of course he’ll have a lot of family and friends, they may want to call just to chat, they may want to call about tickets or what have you. We don’t want to get distracted by that stuff. We need to focus on the fight, so we get away.”
BoxingScene.com: This question is more for Andre Johnson [Peterson’s publicist]. There are more responsibilities for Lamont publicizing the fight when he’s performing at home. Again, does that energize Lamont rather than distract him?
Johnson: “Lamont understands the big picture, that his involvement has a lot to do with ticket sales. I relate that directly to doing interviews and making himself available to be a part of the promotion. That he seems to be able to do with ease when it comes to fighting at home and being able to prioritize his training, and making a distinction between the promotion. When I need him, he’s available. Everything is scheduled around the training so that it doesn’t interrupt preparations for him and Barry.”
BoxingScene.com: Back to the fight, Barry, what do you want to see from Lamont on Jan. 25, aside from him getting the win?
Hunter: “I’m just looking for just a clean victory. I want to see more cerebral fighting, instead of being more physical. If we have to, we have to. But I’d like to get back to the sweet science of boxing, and definitely walk away with the victory so we can go on to the next episode.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you have any concerns about how Lamont will respond when he gets hit with a clean shot?
Hunter: “No. You’re talking about a young man who’s battled adversity his whole life, his whole career. Life couldn’t knock him out, so I’m not worried about no man. And even if you go back to the Lucas Matthysse fight, I don’t have no problems with the stoppage from [referee Steve] Smoger, but Lamont actually made it to his feet. He was hurt, no doubt. He was stunned, no doubt. But he wasn’t knocked out.
“We’ve seen him in situations like that and watch him come back and turn it into a victory. Nevertheless, I didn’t think it was worth taking a gamble. I’m not even worried about him, as far as taking a punch is concerned. The young man spars middleweights even all the way up to light heavyweights, and he’s OK.”
BoxingScene.com: How much longer do you want him fighting at 140?
Hunter: “That’s a good question. We have a nutritionist, and thus far this particular time I think that was a real, real big plus for this particular camp. Thus far we seem to be doing OK. We don’t have any problems as far as feeling lightheaded or feeling weak or nothing out of the ordinary. But it’s out there — this may be the last or may not be the last. It all depends on how he feels during and after this fight, because the bigger names of course are going up to 147. That’s all we would like to fight, are the bigger names.”
BoxingScene.com: Lamont has said he’s definitely interested in a rematch with Matthysse. Would you also be in favor of a potential rematch should he get past Jean?
Hunter: “Sure, we’d like to fight Matthysse and Timothy [Bradley]. Those are the only two losses that he has. Especially the Matthysse fight, if you revisit that fight, it was about a round, a round and a half, he was giving Lucas a whole lot of problems with boxing, which was the plan. Sometimes Lamont has so much heart — after he got hit in the back of the head a few times, I’m not taking nothing away from Lucas, that did a lot of damage. And then on the flip side of that, he got so much heart, once he got hit, he got a little frustrated, a little angry, and he went to war with him. That’s what we’re getting away from. I don’t want that. If he was to stay boxing, which was the plan, that whole fight would’ve been in his favor.”
BoxingScene.com: Lamont told me he was back in the gym almost immediately after the Matthysse loss. Do you think that this eight-month gap between fights was good for rejuvenating him, or would you have preferred to see him back in the ring sooner?
Hunter: “Of course we like to fight, but on the same note you have to understand that 10- and 12-round fights, wars at that, do a lot of damage to your body. That’s something that we needed a break from. I think that could’ve been a good thing. He got a chance not just to rest his body, but his mind, also.”
BoxingScene.com: When would you like to see Lamont return after this Jean fight?
Hunter: “Probably depending on how rough of a fight this may be, if it’s just a regular fight, probably within the next four months.”
BoxingScene.com: Anything else you want people to know?
Hunter: “Come on out on the 25th. Again, this is for the city. We’re doing our best right now while we pretty much have control of that belt to bring bigger fights to Washington, D.C. I definitely think that we can bring boxing back to D.C. in a big way, but we’re definitely going to need the support of the city.”
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide . Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]