Lamont Peterson Upsets Amir Khan

By John G. Thompson: It has been quite a year for boxing upsets and Lamont Peterson’s (30-1-1, 15 KO’s) upset this evening over the IBF and WBA Super World Light Welterweight Champion Amir Khan (26-2, 18 KO’s) will certainly be remembered as one of the biggest. On paper the two boxers look very close in terms of their records, size, and age; however, Khan was perceived by most as the clear favorite. Nevertheless, Peterson made a huge statement in front of his hometown crowd at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on HBO World Championship Boxing.

A 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist, Khan has been on a meteoric rise since his only prior loss, a shocking first round knockout at the hands of Breidis Prescott in 2008. Khan won eight straight (half by stoppage) since then and joined forces with famed trainer Freddie Roach. Along the way Khan bested the likes of Marco Antonio Barrera, Andriy Kotelnyk, Pauli Malignaggi, Marcos Maidana, and Zab Judah. In an extraordinarily tough fight of the year candidate with Maidana, Khan erased some of the perception of him having a weak chin and earned respect in going to war with one of the division’s toughest warriors.

While Peterson also stepped up his level of competition, his results have varied. He won the interim WBO Light Welterweight Title from then undefeated Willy Blain in 2009, but lost it in his next bout to still undefeated Timothy Bradley via a unanimous wide margin decision. Peterson rebounded with a TKO victory, but then fought to a draw against Victor Ortiz almost exactly one year ago. The majority draw drew controversy, with fans divided in their opinion of who won, even though Peterson was knocked down twice in the third round. Peterson fought once since then, a twelfth round knockout of Victor Manuel Cayo in late July.

Khan took an early lead on the scorecards as Referee Joe Cooper ruled a knockdown in the first round after the two fighters’ legs got tangled and Peterson went down, though Khan had landed a left. Khan also took the second, but Peterson really brought the aggression in the third round. The fourth round brought the best action of the evening. My wife, who seldom watches an entire fight with me, said humorously, “This sure beats watching the Klitschkos.” The somewhat more seasoned boxing commentator Larry Merchant said in the fourth, “I already want to see the rematch.” So do I.

The two fighters traded the next few rounds as Khan used his speed advantage to move away from Peterson, who looked to close the distance and make it a rough, inside fight. Peterson ripped away with left hooks to the body and landed a combination to Khan’s head in the sixth and Khan taunted him for it. By the end of the sixth round, Peterson was swelling above the right eye and Khan below the left.

Referee Cooper unfortunately interjected himself into the fight in the seventh deducting a point from Khan for pushing. Khan did push Peterson back on a few occasions, trying to create distance; however, Cooper never warned him sufficiently to deduct a point. Peterson laid on some punishment in the eighth courtesy of digging body shots as he was able to pin Khan against the ropes on a number of occasions. The ninth round produced great two way action as they traded combinations. However, Khan caught Petersonwith a left hook/ right hook combo and the right really buckled Peterson’s legs for a moment. Peterson came back towards the end of the round with some headshots.

Khan did a fantastic job in the championship rounds of moving away from Peterson and making him miss. He would often tie up Peterson, forcing his head down and telling the referee that Peterson was trying to headbutt. Then in the twelfth round Referee Cooper changed the outcome of the fight, deducting an additional point from Khan for pushing. Most ringside commentators felt this was a case of “hometown cooking” on the part of Cooper. I scored the fourth round even and the twelfth round 9-9, with a final tally of 114-112 for Khan, though I thought a couple rounds were close enough for debate. One judge scored the match 114-111 for Khan; however, the other two overturned him, both with the score of 113-112 awarding the split decision to Peterson.

A rematch with Khan appears the best option for Peterson, and Peterson said he would grant one in the post fight interview. Peterson is not quite big enough a name yet for the likes of Pacquiao or Mayweather. This win would seem to have earned him a shot at the other light welterweight titlists, however, as Peterson already lost such a lopsided decision to Bradley there seems little need for a rematch. A fight between Peterson and the winner of the proposed Danny Garcia vs. Erik Morales bout or between Peterson and the undefeated prospect Mike Alvarado could also be intriguing. However, with the controversial judging, this matchup will probably see a sequel.

Article posted on 11.12.2011

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