This Saturday night, Lamont Peterson and mandatory challenger Dierry Jean square off from the DC Armory in Washington, USA.
The 29 year old Peterson’s story will be familiar to British diehards due to the extensive coverage he received here for his controversial victory over Amir Khan in December 2011.
Despite scoring an early knockdown, the Bolton lad conceded the tightest of split decisions in Peterson’s hometown of Washington DC, after having two points docked for ‘pushing’. Then, their keenly anticipated rematch had to be shelved when Peterson failed a pre-fight drugs test. The pair still has an unresolved score to settle.
Known as ‘Havoc’, Peterson and his younger brother Anthony – also a leading pro – survived a homeless childhood on the mean streets of DC, prior to finding sanctuary inside the prize ring.
A multiple US national amateur champion, he joined the pros in September 2004 and romped to victory in his first 27 gigs before colliding with formidable WBO king Tim Bradley in December 2009.
Though widely outscored, he delivered a sufficiently plucky showing to merit a second world title crack at Khan two years later.
Problems beyond the ropes confided the forceful, technically adept Peterson to just two airings over the subsequent 25 months. Whilst he retained his claim by grinding out an eight round stoppage over ex WBO king Kendall Holt last February, he was pulverised in three by Argentine bomber Lucas Matthysse in an over-the-weight non title affair in May and has been dormant since.
At just 7-5 against, 5ft 7in challenger Jean is a very live underdog. Born in Haiti 31 years ago, he is a product of the currently thriving Quebec boxing scene, having lived in Canada since the age of 10.
A late starter at 18, he posted a 54-8 amateur slate and has been victorious in all 25 contests since joining the pros in December 2006. Seventeen stoppage wins suggest there is plenty of pop in his gloves.
It’s a contest full of curiosity and who better to assess it for us than the aforementioned Khan, a former two-time 140lb world champion who spoke to boxing writer Glynn Evans from his training base in California on Monday evening.
Here’s what Khan had to say about the fight:
“It’ll be very interesting to see what Peterson has still got left. He’s 29 and he’s coming off a bad knockout loss to Lucas Matthysse last year. Sometimes a bad defeat can make you a better fighter, if you can learn from it and make changes. It’s happened to me against Breidis Prescott and Danny Garcia but I proved it doesn’t necessarily mean the end.
I was surprised by how Matthysse managed to put Peterson away so early and so clinically because when I fought Lamont he absorbed a lot of big shots. But then our fight took a lot out of both of us. It was brutal. Later he tested positive (for synthetic testosterone in the build up to their aborted rematch) so you don’t know if he was on something that night.
When I fought Lamont he was challenging for a world title in front of his hometown crowd and he was really up for it mentally. Fighting at home gave him a huge advantage and he came with real hunger to win. The shots he took from me proved he has a real fighting heart. He had to dig deep.
He’s quite a good technical boxer but without wanting to disrespect him or sound big headed myself, I was a bit better than Lamont, boxing wise, the night we fought. When I got him onto his back foot, his shots usually fell short.
But Lamont applied a lot of good pressure. He closed the range and cut the ring down well. He’s got a firm stance, keeps his hands tight and moves pretty well. He’s not the biggest puncher but he chugs forward, grinding away, grinding away. In Barry Hunter, he had a very good trainer who continually inspired him to drive forward. But he’s only really got the one style and I know I took a lot out of him. He’s not been the same in either of his two fights since.
After his loss to Matthysse, I’m not sure that Peterson deserves to hold a belt and, personally, I think he falls a bit short of Danny Garcia (WBC/WBA king) and Ruslan Provodnikov (current WBO boss), the other champions at 140. Still, styles make fights.
Like most people, I’ve not seen or heard a lot about Jean. But he’s the mandatory challenger and has been highly ranked by several organisations for some time. I’m told he’s a very tough and durable orthodox boxer and he’s going into his world title chance unbeaten. He should certainly be confident and up for it. He’ll provide us with a good gauge of what Peterson has left.
It’s his big chance and my advice to Jean would be to jump on Peterson from the very start. Push him back and put him under pressure immediately. Lamont’s coming off a bad stoppage defeat so there’s sure to be doubts in his mind. After dropping Peterson heavily in the first round, I made the mistake of backing off and allowing him back into the fight. I let him get his confidence back. I regret that.
Coming off that kayo (defeat), I’d expect Peterson to be very careful at the start and to keep it tight until he’s fully warmed up. It’s a big opportunity for Jean to break through and make a name for himself. It’s definitely a fight worth watching.
But I expect Peterson to win this, probably by decision. He’s got far greater experience at top level and fighting in his hometown will prove a big advantage again.”