Which undefeated junior welterweight will stay at the top of the division?
A fascinating Junior Welterweight bout takes place on December 12 when undefeated WBO Champion Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley takes on undefeated interim champion Lamont Peterson. The bout will be held at the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, just outside Bradley’s hometown of Palm Springs. The Bradley vs. Peterson bout will be televised on Showtime. It promises to be a fight that is a boxing purist’s delight with enough action to satisfy more casual fans.
The two were former junior Olympic teammates, but we can expect that sentimentality to evaporate when the first bell rings. This is a high-stakes fight, as boxing fans search for some clarity in the suddenly wide-open waters at 140. Ricky Hatton had ruled the division for several years. After Manny Pacquiao destroyed him in 2 rounds in May, he became the recognized champ at 140.
Pac-Man, however, seems more interested in taking on welterweights at the moment and in the foreseeable future, and Hatton’s viability will be questioned if and when he returns. Therefore, this bout should go a long way in determining who will be the man at 140.
Bradley vs. Peterson Preview
Both fighters appear to be in top form. Bradley has been exceptional since making a big class leap to decision titlist Junior Witter in May of last year. After shutting out Edner Cherry in a defense, he fought a unification bout against fellow titlist, murderous-punching Kendall Holt and survived 2 knockdowns to win a unanimous decision.
His last fight was his controversial bout against Nate Campbell, who was unable to continue after 3 rounds due to a cut stemming from a head butt. Bradley was originally declared a TKO victor, which was later reversed to a No Contest. The ensuing controversy served to perhaps distract us from Bradley’s superiority that night.
Campbell lost every second of those first 3 rounds, and while always capable of reversing the tide with his power, was probably in for a long night. To say that Campbell himself sensed this would likely be correct.
Lamont Peterson, the softer-punching, but slicker-boxing of the two Peterson brothers is not an easy proposition for anyone at 140. His rise to the top of the ratings is typical of most young prospects, a long-undefeated run with steadily increasing opposition. He’s long and quite capable of boxing well. He uses his height well, has a good arsenal of straight punches, and a world-class set of legs to facilitate his moving style.
Make no mistake about it however, this is a massive class jump for Peterson. Can he take what worked against journeymen and fringe contenders and make it work against a world-class practitioner like Bradley?
When we remember what people were saying about Bradley before the Witter fight, then maybe we should extend the benefit of the doubt to Peterson. He will have 4-5 inches in height and reach, good conditions for a boxer of his style, so the picture isn’t as bleak for him as some might think. He has a world-class look about him, is very serious about his career, and one gets the feeling he will be around for a while.
But it will not be easy. Bradley will be boxing in front of his hometown fans, and seems to have elevated his game a notch or two since winning the title. He must sense what is at stake and what can be lost here, so a drop in form here would be a surprise. Despite having only 11 KO’s in 24 fights, he has developed into a hurtful body puncher. He was also very adept at closing the distance on Holt, when Holt elected to box, so he should conceivably be able to do the same with Peterson.
Bradley vs. Peterson Prediction
This is a tough spot for Peterson in his first world-class assignment. Bradley is an ultra-confident, peaking young champion positioning himself for huge fights. I hesitate to whole-heartedly endorse Bradley, as Peterson might just be that kind of talent that rises to the occasion and put forth the kind of boxing exhibition that gives Bradley an awful time.
What appears more likely, however, is a scenario where Bradley’s doggedness and high-pressure combination punching to both the head and body will surface to the forefront. Peterson’s skills will keep him in the fight until the mid-rounds, at which point the “Desert Storm” will increase the heat and force a late-rounds stoppage over the game, but not quite ready for prime-time Peterson.
Photo Credit: Carlos Baeza / Thompson Boxing Promotions