by Cliff Rold
The DMV brought it for big fight night. The crowd was raucous and rewarded for their enthusiasm. It was one of those nights where being there meant a ton. The crowd was nuts for Anthony Peterson before the televised broadcast. The ooh’s and ash’s when the replays were shown of Heavyweight Seth Mitchell’s knockout were deafening.
And then there was the main event. Amir Khan made it his second December in a row with a Fight of the Year candidate, last year leaving fans breathless against Marcos Maidana. This time, he didn’t escape with the win. The referee had something to do with it. So did the relentless body attack of Lamont Peterson.
A world away in the Philippines, Brian Viloria got himself in the conversation for Fighter, Comeback, and Upset of the Year with a career-redefining win. It was a great weekend for fight fans.
Thank you boxing.
Let’s got to the report cards.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Khan A; Peterson B+/Post: A+; A-
Pre-Fight: Power – Khan B+; Peterson B-/Post: B+; B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Khan B; Peterson B/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Khan B+; Peterson B/Post: A+; A+
Pre-Fight: Speed – Viloria B+; Segura B/A-; B-
Pre-Fight: Power – Viloria B+; Segura A/Post: A-; B+
Pre-Fight: Defense – Viloria B-; Segura C-/Post: B+; D+
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Viloria B; Segura A/Post: A; A
Beginning with the little men, it’s hard not to see the result and wonder why Viloria (30-3, 17 KO), who won on an eight-round technical knockout, was not the favorite heading into the bout with Segura (28-2-1, 24 KO). Short, hard shots usually beat wide. Such was the strength of the run Segura had put together versus some of the ups and downs Viloria’s years in the ring.
He turned back the negatives Saturday. Segura had some nice rallies in spots. With charity he may have won the fifth round. It’s probably truer to have had Viloria shutting him out. Viloria was precise, landing between the wider swings of Segura and the hematoma around the right eye of Segura was gruesome. His left hook and right hand ruled the night and the amateur pedigree he possesses, the skill base it provides, was evident.
Paired with his WBO 112 lb. title win over Julio Cesar Miranda, Viloria has rebuilt from the ashes of a bad loss to Carlos Tamara. Fights with lineal champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam or WBA titlist Tyson Marquez would be welcome and pick ‘em for the moment.
Segura is hardly done. Still one of the most exciting fighters alive, he too could be paired with Marquez, or even bomber Luis Concepcion, for thrillers. Flyweight has some new life this year and hopefully the division can parlay that into serious action in 2012.
Back to the States, and the question is: did Amir Khan (26-2, 18 KO) get the business from referee Joseph Cooper against Lamont Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KO) in losing his Jr. Welterweight belts? The answer looked like a yes, but Peterson losing a point for a questionable knockdown was an element of the fight as well. Khan was a victim of an overly strict interpretation of the rules on the road, deducted two critical points for something almost never penalized. This scribe had it 113-112 for Peterson. The deductions counted.
Khan has a right to be pissed. It takes nothing away from what Peterson did. Peterson looked like he would be overwhelmed early by the speed of Khan. In the last minute of the second round he began to adjust and fans got a classic affair. Peterson’s assault to the body had Khan on the run and holding like crazy for long stretches with perhaps a bit too much looking to the ref to complain. Fact was, both men fouled a ton but not in a bad way.
It was a fight. They fought their asses off.
The rallies Khan came up with, the shot he hurt Peterson with in the ninth, and a strong close in the final two rounds (deduction or no) left reason to drool about a return engagement.
At the post-fight press conference, Khan requested, strongly, that Peterson shows the same courage he did in going on the road and brings the rematch to England. It is more likely to head to Vegas but Peterson was up for it. Peterson, asked what adjustments he made to the speed of Khan, said he stopped going straight back and committed to coming forward.
As a bonus, wearing their promoter hats for Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins were around to answer questions. As the press conference MC, De La Hoya gave credit to both fighters but made sure to highlight the deductions and stressed that both men were ready for a rematch.
Asked afterwards, putting aside the deduction, how he felt about the turnout and enthusiasm of the D.C. fans as a promoter, De La Hoya said, “The outcome was amazing. The turnout was incredible by the fans. We were extremely proud about the promotion. It goes to show you that if you take a fight to the fans, they will come out and support. This is not going to the last time we go outside of Las Vegas or Los Angeles. These are fun promotions and this is what it’s all about.”
Hopkins was asked to reflect on being back in the Washington, D.C. area. His first title shot, against Roy Jones Jr., came at the old RFK stadium. His first title win, against Segundo Mercado, came relatively down the street from the D.C. Convention Center in Landover, Maryland (current home of the Washington Redskins). “I reflected on it as soon as I got in D.C. because I have a lot of fans here. I have a lot of support here even though I’m from Philadelphia. It’s been eighteen years. When you come to this town, you go to come to this town ready because they are a real, real fight town. Seriously, you seen the crowd. You seen the press conference. When you come to D.C. or Maryland, because Maryland is attached to D.; that’s where their identity is at.”
As a bonus, Hopkins was asked about his career past the age of 40. Beginning with two bouts against Jermain Taylor in 2005, it can be argued Hopkins has faced the stiffest competition in the sport over the last six to seven years with bouts against Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Joe Calzaghe, Kelly Pavlik, Jean Pascal, and, ugly ending aside, Chad Dawson. Asked explicitly why he appears to have bigger balls than fighters much younger than him who often don’t fight the same level of foe consistently, Hopkins gave a short replay.
“Because I have big balls.”
It was a fantastic night at the fights.
Report Card Picks 2011: 41-18
Jr. Welterweight: Bradley’s hold on the number one spot is strengthened while Peterson gets a bump. Khan remains right in the thick of things in this wonderful division.
Flyweight: Viloria gets a bump off the best win, in the best year, of his career. Segura, despite the loss, enters the top ten low.
Jr. Flyweight: Giovanni Segura is removed as champion with his career to stay at Flyweight and above.
These moves and more are reflected a page away.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]