By John F. McKenna (McJack)
New IBF/WBA light welterweight champion Lamont Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KO’s) fought the fight of his life last night at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. to win a narrow albeit controversial decision over former champion Amir Khan (26-2, 18 KO’s).
In the opening two rounds it appeared that Khan was on his way to victory after flooring Peterson in the 1st round. Khan’s punches were the faster and sharper of the two and it seemed likely that the 7-1 odds favoring Amir were correct. After the 2nd round however Lamont did a readjustment. He did not roll over as some of Khan’s previous opponents have when the going got tough. Peterson dug in his heels. At the exhortation of his corner Peterson showed his true grit and exhibited to the world why some fighters fall by the wayside and others rise to the top.
Lamont would not be dissuaded by Amir’s razor sharp punches and his pin point accuracy. Peterson’s resolve only stiffened when it appeared at times that Khan was about to take over the fight. Peterson never forgot where he came from and where he did not want to go back to.
Last nights fight is an easy candidate for Fight of the Year and ultimately turned into a war of attrition. Beginning in the 3rd round Lamont began scoring to the body effectively. Khan at times appeared to showboat and foolishly attempted to brawl with Peterson. It was a mistake that would cost him dearly in the later rounds as Lamont’s body shots took their toll. Amir continued to land rapid combinations in the later rounds, but they did not have the force that his punches had in the earlier rounds.
There is no doubt that Khan was in great shape and had trained hard for his fight with Peterson. But there is a serious question as to whether he was putting the cart before the horse so to speak. Amir has gone on record several times to say that his fight with Peterson would be his last at light welterweight. Khan’s goal had been to defeat Peterson, move up to welterweight and after a couple of fights at welterweight challenge undefeated WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. (42-0, 26 KO’s).
It is my view that Khan took his eye off the ball. There is no doubt that he is very good fighter, but to be thinking so far ahead when you have a serious challenge in front of you is a risky proposition. Boxing involves not only physical conditioning, the mental preparation before a fight can be every bit as important.
It is unfortunate that controversy marred Peterson’s great victory. The referee taking two points away from Khan in the hometown of Peterson is of course going to lead to speculation that Amir was treated unfairly. Nonetheless, it was clear that Khan totally underestimated new champion Lamont Peterson.
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