Junior welterweight contender Lamont Peterson has had his brushes with stardom in the past two years only to slip back into the depths of boxing's deepest weight class.
Peterson (28-1-1, 14 KOs) might receive one more opportunity to prove that he belongs among the elite of the 140-pound division, but he’ll have to defeat Victor Cayo first.
Peterson faces the talented fringe contender in this week’s Friday Night Fights main event in Las Vegas. A victory would help Peterson begin to put numerous setbacks in the ring and in the often-dodgy business of the sport behind him.
The Washington, D.C., native lost a clash of undefeated standouts as well as his first title shot when he dropped one-sided unanimous decision to Tim Bradley in December of 2009.
Hope returned for Peterson in January of 2010, when his name surfaced as a potential opponent for Edwin Valero (27-0, 27 knockouts). The Venezuelan knockout artist was supposed to relinquish his WBC lightweight belt for a rise to 140 pounds, but the bout never materialized, and in April of that year, the troubled fighter killed himself after admittedly stabbing his wife to death.
However, Peterson appeared to thrust himself back into the limelight after rising from a pair of second-round knockdowns to salvage a 10-round majority draw against hard-hitting Victor Ortiz last December.
But in February, talks for an April challenge to WBA beltholder Amir Khan broke down over money and a rematch clause. Khan moved on and defended his belt by technical decision over Paul McCloskey in the UK.
“At the end of the day, we passed on the Khan fight because it’s a business,” said Peterson. “So if the deal is not right, then the deal is not right. I'm not going to go for just anything.”
In the meantime, Bradley, Ortiz and Khan have gone on to greater achievements.
Already the WBO titleholder, Bradley added the WBC's crown by dethroning Devon Alexander in January.
Fighting as a welterweight in April, Ortiz rose from a pair of knockdowns and scored two of his own before lifting the WBC belt from previously unbeaten Andre Berto. On Sept. 17, Ortiz has a lucrative defense against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
And last weekend, Khan dethroned IBF titleholder Zab Judah by fifth-round knockout.
“Yeah, sometimes I was thinking, ‘I wish that it could have been me,’” said Peterson. “But at the end of the day, you have to have no regrets.”
Friday night's IBF eliminator against Cayo (26-1, 18 KOs), of the Dominican Republic, offers yet another shot at redemption to the 27-year-old contender.
The winner of their battle becomes the mandatory challenger to Khan's IBF belt.
“If I win, then I can fight for another world title,” said Peterson. “So this means that I can be right back where I wanted to be. It's nice for me to be back in a big fight again.”
But winning will be no easy task against Cayo, who has scored knockouts in the second and first rounds, respectively, since, himself, being stopped in the sixth round by Marcos Maidana in March of 2010.
“This guy comes to fight, slips punches pretty well and has decent power and decent speed. Overall, he's a really solid fighter,” said Peterson. “But at the end of the day, I just think that I'm better than him. I'm just going to go in there and take care of my business.”