For a boxer, the words “And the new!” are quite possibly the two sweetest ones in the English language. Since hearing them, Lamont Peterson has held the IBF Jr. Welterweight for all of 14 months but the time that followed his controversial win against Amir Khan was far from ideal.
They included, a substantial amount of post-fight drama regarding over-zealous referees, allegedly crooked judges, and mystery men in fedoras. He also failed a drug test, got stripped of one his titles and missed out on a career high $1.5 million payday in the cancelled rematch against Khan, 40 times more than what he was guaranteed for his first defense tonight against veteran, and former champion, Kendall Holt.
Saying that Lamont was on the proverbial “hot-seat” tonight would have been an understatement.
Prior to tonight’s fight, Peterson acknowledged that he thought he’d be more anxious as the fight approached but he calmly assured viewers that he was calm and in control as fight time approached. As Holt mentioned in his pre-fight interview, the pressure was all on Lamont as he was the one in front of his home crowd, trying to redeem himself after a taxing 14 month layoff, three months longer than his own.
After the bell that signaled the start of the first round there were no immediate signs of ring rust from either fighter. Peterson came out very aggressively, throwing powerful hooks and squaring off strongly as if trying to make an early statement against a hard puncher who is known for making early statements of his own. As Peterson pounced, Holt soundly met him in the center of the ring and responded with strong shots to the body. Lamont’s footwork was sharp early on, and continued all night; a clear testament to the fact that he stayed active and in the gym during his layoff. As expected, there was plenty of early action in a first round that ended with Holt landing a straight right hand that got Peterson’s attention.
The next two rounds showed both fighters trying to establish their jab and taking command of the ring, but Holt seemed to be throwing with more confidence as he fired stronger jabs that kept Peterson at a distance. Both fighters continued going to the body in an effort to set up a solid attack up top.
One fourth of the way into the fight, Holt was clearly ahead as he kept his opponent at bay with a solid jab that Peterson made no attempt to move away from. It’s as if he had realized, during these first three rounds, that Holt could not hurt him. With increased confidence, Peterson started letting his hands loose, as Holt’s own began to slow down, and landed a long looping right hook, which landed squarely and sent Holt to the canvas.
Between rounds, Lamont barely looked as if he had put in any work. His conditioning was top notch and it was obvious that he entered the ring prepared to fight a hard twelve rounds.
Holt came out for the 5th round with a rapidly swelling eye, yet with increased aggression aiming at re-gaining respect from Peterson. It might have been too little too late, however, as a confident Peterson dismissed his own attempt at defense in exchange for alternating shots to the body and strong hooks to the head. The round ended with Lamont teeing off on Holt, winding up his arm, and displaying bravado not typical of the otherwise very humble fighter.
The rest of the night was all Peterson, who threw several seven and eight punch combinations, scored another knockdown in the 6th round, and realized half-way through this fight hat it was only a matter of time before he dropped Holt for good or the referee stopped the fight, which he eventually did in the second half of the 8th round.
A convincing win and impressive performance for Lamont Peterson tonight signified a re-opening of doors, if you will. After recently signing with Golden Boy Promotions, some big fights are now on the horizon for the champ. Aside from an unlikely showdown with the rugged Brandon Rios, currently under contract with Top Rank, the three biggest fights at 140 lbs for Peterson can only be made under the Golden Boy banner. These would be against Argentine power-puncher Lucas Matthysse, Danny “Swift” Garcia and a rematch against Amir Khan.
The thought of these four fighters going round-robin is music to a fight fan’s ears and you better believe that Lamont Peterson is ecstatic to be back in that conversation.
As sweet as it was for Lamont to hear those sweet words in December of 2011, it’s possible that he was more satisfied hearing the words “And still!” tonight and realizing that he was no longer being relegated to the B-side as others basked in a glory that he felt was also his.