By the time that IBF junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson steps into the ring for tonight’s ESPN2-televised matchup with ex-beltholder Kendall Holt at the D.C. Armory, it will have been 14 months since his disputed split-decision over Amir Khan earned him the belt at the Washington Convention Center in December of 2011.
During that time, Peterson (30-1-1, 15 knockouts) has been stripped of the WBA’s version of his belt, which he also won from Khan, owing to a failed drug test last March that was contractually administered at his choosing by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
Peterson came up dirty for synthetic testosterone, which forced the cancelation of Peterson-Khan II. The IBF stuck by Peterson, however, after a review of his medical records by IBF-appointed doctors ruled that the testosterone levels discovered in Peterson were not at a level that would enhance his performance.
Last month, Peterson signed with Golden Boy Promotions, representing a surprising union given the acrimonious past he and trainer/manager Barry Hunter had with the Los Angeles-based company in the wake of Peterson’s win over Khan, also promoted by Golden Boy.
Peterson, nevertheless, insists that he has rolled with the punches, as he expects to do, yet again, opposite the hard-punching Holt (28-5, 16 KOs), of Paterson, N.J.
“I kept my mind on boxing, so that helped out with my training. I wasn’t built tough for no reason. I understand that the obstacles are going to come, and I’m ready for them,” said Peterson, who is 3-0-1, with two knockouts since falling by unanimous decision to current WBO welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley in December of 2009.
“There will be no ring rust. None whatsoever. I look sharp in the gym. I feel good. Normally, if you haven’t fought for a while, your nerves seem to get to you. But I’m really comfortable right now and ready to go and not nervous at all. He’s a pretty decent all-around fighter, but he’s mostly known for his power. We’ve got a pretty decent game plan going into the fight. There are two or three of them, and I feel pretty confident that we’ll get the ‘W.'”
In January of 2010, it was announced by Peterson’s then-promoter, Top Rank, that Peterson had a date for June 12 of that year at New York’s Madison Square Garden opposite Holt, the man against whom Bradley had to twice rise from the canvas to dethrone as WBO titlist by unanimous decision in April of 2009.
But Peterson-Holt never came to fruition at that time.
In March of that year, however, it was thought that Peterson was in line for an April clash against the late Edwin Valero, a hard-punching, 28-year-old Venezuelan with a mark of 27-0, all knockouts, who was to vacate his WBC belt for a rise into the 140-pound division.
But that fight also never happened.
Peterson endured, nevertheless, Peterson bouncing back from the loss to Bradley with a seventh-round stoppage of Damian Fuller in April of 2010 that was followed by a majority draw with Victor Ortiz in December of that year during which Peterson rose from a pair of third-round knockdowns.
Peterson’s subsequent 12th-round stoppage of Victor Cayo in July of 2011 was followed by the triumph over Khan.
“I just really took time to rest and to work on things that I needed to work on in the ring. I know that I’m a world class fighter, but at the end of the day, we all make mistakes, and it’s all things that I can get better on,” said Peterson of the long layoff.
“So I just took that time out to really, really work on some things. I’m expecting a tough fight. Kendall does not want to lose this fight. At some point, he knows what being the champion feels like. He wants to be a champion, so I expect him to come out and to fight like a man who wants to be champion again.”
Peterson admitted to having a testosterone pellet surgically implanted into his hip by Las Vegas-based Dr. John Thompson on Nov. 12 — a month prior to facing Khan — after he was diagnosed with an abnormally low testosterone level.
Peterson addressed the stigma of the testosterone, which was present in his system for the Khan fight.
“Regardless if I’m beyond it or not, the truth is that I’ve got something to prove,” said Peterson.
“But I just look at as a chance to show that as a reminder that before the Khan fight, Lamont Peterson could fight. So if you take that Khan fight away, I’m still a world-class fighter.”
If victorious, Peterson could earn a potential rematch with Khan, a unification bout with Garcia, or, perhaps, even a showdown with RING No. 1-rated junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse (33-2, 31 KOs) — all of whom are handled by Golden Boy.
In short, he could re-inject himself into the mix of the sport.
“The hard part is out of the way. All of the dieting, the waiting… making the weight. The fun part is here now. It’s time to go out and entertain,” said Peterson, who weighed in at 139.4 to Holt’s 140 pounds even.
“It’s simple. I can feel the adrenalin pumping. My energy is already up, and I know that going into tomorrow, I’m going to have the energy. When I walk into my dressing room, it will be time to get my game face on and it will be strictly business from there.”
Peterson is a local hero in Washington, D.C., having grown up in its Southwest section. Peterson and his younger brother, lightweight standout Anthony Peterson, are two of the younger siblings in a brood of 12.
It was Hunter who rescued the Peterson brothers from a hazardous street life. The boys fended for themselves in the streets of Southeast Washington, D.C. starting at the ages of 5 and 6, after their father was jailed on drug charges, and their mother was left to care for seven of the children.
The Peterson boys went from foster care to the streets and back. For money, they washed car windows or resorted to stealing from grocery stores, becoming pickpockets, swiping tips off of the tables at outdoor restaurants, or things such as stealing bicycles and selling them. Until meeting Hunter, that is.
After his win over Khan, Peterson was given the keys to the city by Mayor Vincent C. Gray. Peterson and his younger brother also served as Grand Marshalls of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade in Washington.
“It’s going to be great to be able to once again entertain my family and friends. Saving them a little money from going to Vegas and things like that. To me, the energy in the air, I know that it’s going to help me out a lot when I’m in that ring trying to win rounds,” said Peterson.
“If it’s a close round, and I hear that crowd cheering for me, it’s going to give me that extra energy that I need to win the fight. It means a lot that my city is behind me, because a lot of times, when I go out, and I fight hard, I’m doing it to represent my city and the people that live in the city. It’s a great feeling to see that the feeling is mutual, and hopefully, we will have this relationship going for a while.”
Photos by Juan Marshall
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]