WASHINGTON, D.C. — IBF junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson dropped his man in the fourth and sixth rounds, and then cornered and pounded him relentlessly for an eighth-round knockout of ex-beltholder Kendall Holt before 3,500 screaming partisan fans at the D.C. Armory in Peterson’s home town of Washington, D.C. on ESPN2 on Friday night.
Peterson (31-1-1, 16 knockouts) ended a 14-month layoff against Holt (28-6, 16 KOs), having last fought in his disputed split-decision over Amir Khan that earned him the belt at the Washington Convention Center in December of 2011.
Peterson cornered Holt and nailed him with a barrage of blows that forced referee Tony Weeks to step in and stop the fight for a technical knockout at the 1:42 mark.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I spent a lot of energy in there trying to get him out. But I just had to settle down and let it come to me,” said Peterson.
“I felt his power early, after he hit me right on the button, and I didn’t feel anything. So I knew that if I could put it together, that I could get him out of there.”
Peterson rose to 4-0-1 with three knockouts since falling by unanimous decision to current WBO welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley in December of 2009. Holt, of Paterson, N.J., had Roy Jones Jr. in his corner for his previous fight in March of last year, when he dropped Tim Coleman four times en route to a second-round TKO.
“I can’t pinpoint when the momentum changed, but I stayed on my bike too long. I’d have done a better job if I had mixed it up more,” said Holt, who was eight pounds over the 140-pound weight limit on Tuesday.
“Physically I felt fine, I just wasn’t pulling the trigger. Mentally, I felt fine. Emotionally, I felt fine. I just wasn’t pulling the trigger.”
In the first round, Peterson moved forward behind his up-jab. Known as a slow starter, it was as if he was trying to dispel the notion. Holt smiled, digging to the body. There was a nice jab by Holt. A right hand caught Peterson’s attention. It was solid.
Peterson responded with a left and danced away. Peterson fought in retreat, suddenly giving ground. It appeared that Holt had gained Peterson’s respect.
In the second round, Holt returned to the jab and attempted to line up his right. Peterson came forward, but Holt doubled up to the head and body with lefts and rights. A crisp left hook caught Peterson on the chest.
Holt boxed comfortably and appeared to be one step ahead of the oncoming Peterson, who seemed to have lost the first two rounds.
It was more of the same in the third round, with Peterson giving ground. Holt had him backing up and dug a right to the body. Holt cocked his right, but was short with it. Holt’s feints even had Peterson reacting as the champion circled, trying to gain some sort of rhythm. Holt continued to dictate and out-box Peterson, who had yet to let his hands go.
“I just had to be patient,” said Peterson. “And to wait for the right time.”
In the fourth, Peterson crouched and tried to come in, but got caught with a right. Holt dug ferociously at the body of the covered up Peterson, who appeared to be getting desperate.
The best punch by Peterson was a left hook that was followed by a right. Peterson dug a couple of shots to the body, and Holt felt them. Peterson rocked Holt with a right and banged home a left and another right. The crowd got behind him, and he continued to carry the action.
Suddenly, a right uppercut and a left dropped Holt face-first to the canvas. He got up, but Peterson rocked him, yet again, this time, with a left hook and a right as the bell sounded.
In the fifth, Peterson came out to finish the job he started, digging an uppercut to Holt’s chin. Holt tried to keep him off with the jab, but Peterson waded forward and continued to close the distance. Peterson took a hard left, but fought through it to drive a left to the head followed by a right that forced Holt to hang on.
Holt was warned by Weeks for holding, after which Peterson continued to inflict damage. Peterson ripped hard shots to the body, and pounded home three overhand rights as the bell sounded ending the fifth.
In the sixth, Peterson continued to plow forward and dug to the body, hands held high around his ears when he wasn’t punching. Holt had some success with the jab, but Peterson rocked him and appeared to drop him with a right.
But Weeks ruled that Holt had slipped. Peterson raked rights to the body and then unleashed a 17-punch combination, ending with a left and a rigth hand that dropped Holt for the second time. Holt rose, but Peterson was on him quickly and resumed the punishment as Holt barely escaped the round.
To start the seventh, it appeared that Holt’s right eye had begun to close, as Peterson continued to stalk. Holt bought time during a lull in action by Peterson, and then, clinched when Peterson came close. The crowd booed.
Peterson appeared to be taking a round off, but landed a nice jab. A hard right by Peterson swiveled Holt’s head. A left rocked Holt, and then, was followed by a six-punch combination. Peterson closed strong to take yet his fourth straight round.
In the eighth, Holt stopped throwing the right hand, and at ringside, the feeling was that an old injury may have resurfaced. Peterson continued to push the pace, adminstering a beating from a succession of punches that forced Weeks to step in and stop the action as Holt was pinned and being pummled along the ropes.
“The last time that I caught him on the ropes, I knew that I couldn’t stop,” said Peterson. “I knew that I could finish him, I just didn’t want to let up.”
Peterson 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.
“First three rounds, he had ring rust, and then he started firing,” said Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer of Peterson. “And man was he on fire. Great performance. Very happy for him.”
Peterson bounced 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.
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 is hopeful of rematch with Khan, a unification bout with WBA and WBC beltholder Danny Garcia — who knocked out Khan for his WBA belt — 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.
“I would love to fight Danny Garcia. I hope that my promoter can make it happen,” said Peterson. “He holds that belt, but I still believe that I’m the rightful champion.”
Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs) has an April 27 defense against southpaw ex-beltholder Zab Judah (42-7, 29 KOs), so Schaefer said he might be thinking more of a Peterson-Matthysse fight rather than Peterson-Garcia.
Schaefer said he might consider pairing Peterson-Matthysse with a clash featuring IBF welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander 24-1, 13 KOs) against Englishman Kell Brook (29-0, 19 KOs) somewhere in Washington, D.C.
“Garcia is fighting Judah, so I am thinking maybe Lucas Matthyse on May 18 from Washington DC from the Verizon Center,” said Schaefer. “Pair it up with Alexander vs Brook. Would be a huge night, maybe one of the biggest nights Washington has seen.”
In the junior featherweight co-main event, Roman Morales (15-0, 8 KOs), of San Ardo, Calif., scored knockdowns in the fourth as well as the final rounds of his fifth-round stoppage of Jesus Pollo Hernandez (10-1-3, 2 KOs), of Huntington Park, Calif.
Hernandez was counted out at 2:59 by referee Malik Waleed.
In a shocker, Elvin Sanchez (6-2-1, 4 KOs), of Paterson, N.J., rose from a second-round knockdown before flooring and finishing off previously unbeaten cruiserweight Venroy “Hard Work” July (13-1-2, 6 KOs), at 2:55 of a third-round knockout at The D.C. Armory on Friday night.
Despite July’s protest, Waleed called a halt to the fight after the loser rose on unsteady legs.
In the evening’s first bout, which featured second-round knockdowns by each fighter, featherweight Raul Lopez (9-1-1, 4 KOs), of the Bronx, secured a unanimous decision over DeWayne Wisdom (2-10, 1 KO), of Indiannapolis, Ind., 59-55 twice, and, 58-56.
In another featherweight bout, the second of the evening, Gevonte Davis, of Baltimore, made his professional debut by twice dropping Desi Williams (0-5) on the way to stoppage in 1:29.
The third fight featured Washington, D.C., heavyweight Danny Kelly earning his third knockout in as many victories without a loss over South Carolina’s 309-pound Schyuler Marshall (1-2, 1 KO) in 2:11.
Photos by Juan Marshall
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]