By Keith Idec
It was neither exciting nor pretty, but Lamont Peterson pounded out a win Saturday night that has placed him in position to land a big welterweight fight.
In his first fight in 16 months, Peterson pressured David Avanesyan inside for most of their 12-round bout, took control during the second half of it and won a unanimous decision in Cincinnati. Peterson won 116-112 on the scorecards of judges Robert Pope and Steve Weisfeld and 115-113 on the card of Phil Rogers to take Avanesyan’s version of the WBA welterweight title at Xavier University’s Cintas Center.
Washington, D.C.’s Peterson improved to 35-3-1 (17 KOs). Russia’s Avanesyan slipped to 22-2-1 (11 KOs).
“I was expecting to pick up where I left off,” Peterson said. “Sixteen months may sound like a long time, but if you’ve stayed in the gym and you’re still working on your craft, it’s not a long time. [The layoff] gave me some time to work on some things – conditioning and technique. We went over some things and I think I took some steps forward tonight. I’m just looking forward to going back to camp and keep moving.”
The first half of the Peterson-Avanesyan was very competitive. Avanesyan held his ground inside, as Peterson attempted to hammer away at his body.
The action picked up in the sixth round, when Peterson and Avanesyan traded hard body shots and later power punches to the head. They traded uppercuts in the seventh round and continued to go at one another’s body.
Referee Harvey Dock warned Peterson for a low blow in the seventh round, just as he had done during the sixth round.
Avanesyan got Peterson’s attention with a right hand early in the eighth round, which prompted Peterson to hold him briefly.
Peterson continued digging away at Avanesyan’s body later in the eighth, though. He also landed a left hook to Avanesyan’s head that moved Avanesyan back to the ropes toward the end of the eighth.
Early in the ninth round, Peterson, hunched over, hurled Avanesyan off his back and onto the canvas. Avanesyan also fell through the loose ropes during the 10th round, but wasn’t hurt and the action resumed quickly.
Peterson followed trainer Barry Hunter’s instructions and went after Avanesyan to start the 12th round. By then, Peterson appeared to have built up a lead on the scorecards.
An aggressive Peterson couldn’t stop Avanesyan, but had been the more effective fighter by the time the final bell sounded.
The 33-year-old Peterson fought for the first time in 16 months. Before Saturday night, the former IBF and WBA 140-pound champion, hadn’t boxed since he won a majority decision against Felix Diaz (19-1, 9 KOs) in October 2015.
The 28-year-old Avanesyan fought for the first time in 8½ months. He hadn’t boxed since he defeated faded legend Shane Mosley (49-10-1, 41 KOs, 1 NC) by unanimous decision in a 12-rounder May 28 in Glendale, Arizona.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.