Lamont Peterson doesn’t want to lose under any circumstances, but especially not when he’s in front of a hometown crowd, which he will be when he faces WBA and IBF junior welterweight beltholder Amir Khan on Dec. 10 in Washington, D.C.
Peterson is getting his second title shot since December of 2009, when he lost by unanimous decision to then-WBO beltholder Tim Bradley (27-0, 11 KOs). He earned the IBF’s No.1 contender status in July by stopping Victor Cayo (26-2, 18 KOs) in the 12th round.
Khan has won eight consecutive bouts, four of them by knockout, since being stopped himself by Breidis Prescott (24-3, 19 KOs) in the first round of their 2008 fight. He is now coming off of a fifth-round stoppage of ex-IBF titleholder Zab Judah.
Khan had expressed interest in facing four-division and WBC counter part Erik Morales (52-7, 36 KOs) before deciding on Peterson, who had turned down earlier offers of $150,000, then, $200,000, and finally, $300.000, to face him.
Peterson and his manager and trainer Barry Hunter each agreed that the amount of $350,000 was “in the ballpark” if the deal were to get done. But when the negotiations fell apart, Khan moved on and defended his crown by technical decision over Paul McCloskey in England.
With the details now set, Peterson can focus entirely on the fight, and doing so in front of his hometown fans is a bonus.
But Washington, D.C. is also the site of another battle from his past, when, as children, he and his brother, Anthony Peterson, were forced to fend for themselves.
Lamont says that he and Anthony were ages 5 and 6, respectively, when their father was jailed on drug charges, and their mother was left to care for seven children. The two of them, however, bounced between foster care and the streets.
Peterson credits Hunter with rescuing him and 26-year-old Anthony, a lightweight with a record of 30-1 with 20 KOs.
The 27-year-old Peterson (29-1-1, 15 KOs) spoke to RingTV.com for this Q&A on Friday before flying to London to join the 24-year-old Khan (26-1, 18 KOs) for a Tuesday press conference promoting their bout.
After that, the fighters will be in Washington on Thursday, along with Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, for another press conference.
You know, that makes it so much more better and so much sweeter being in that it’s in D.C., because my past few fights have been on the West Coast. I love fighting in Vegas, which is very cool.
But I like looking at a crowd when I’m going into the ring and seeing some faces that I know. I’ll be able to get some familiar cheers when I do something well in the ring.
So hopefully, I’ll get people coming out to support me. I feel like I’m blessed right now to be fighting for not just one, but for two world titles in my home town.
RingTV.com: Does this validate every decision that you’ve made, including the turning down of the first opportunity to fight Amir Khan in his native England?
You know, it paid off. The circumstances are much better for me. Instead of fighting in the United Kingdom, I’m fighting in my home town.
The money situation is squared away, the rematch situation is squared away. So, I’m very happy. Everything that I did made it worth the risk.
RingTV.com: What reaction are you getting locally as you travel around?
They’re happy that the fight is here. A lot of people want to know why me or my brother haven’t fought in the area. I never have an answer for them, but now, I am very happy about that.
RingTV.com: Ever met Amir Khan before?
RingTV.com: Was there a part of you that was resigned to the belief that Khan would reliquish the crown rather than fight you and try to face Erik Morales or someone else and leave you to face someone else for the vacant IBF belt?
But once Morales said that he didn’t want to fight him, I think that he just chose me because he had nowhere else to go. I think that he wanted to fight me for some reason.
Because I think that I heard him say it earlier this year that now that he wasn’t going to get a fight with Timothy Bradley, he at least wanted to fight somebody that Timothy fought.
I heard him say out of his own mouth that he was going to try to knock me out or something, and that he would try to do something that Timothy didn’t do.
So, I think that he wanted the fight for that reason, to try to prove something to Timothy. But I think that it could have been that.
But it could have been the fact that he may have run out of options also, because HBO is not going to approve too many people.
RingTV.com: Do you believe that you are considered an underdog?
So they consider me the underdog I guess. Losing to Timothy, the draw with Victor Ortiz. So, a lot of people seem to think that he’s better than those two fighters. So I guess that that makes me the underdog.
RingTV.com: Where were you growing up in Washington, D.C. when your father went to prison?
LP: We were living in Northwest D.C. When my father got locked up, we lost our house. My mother didn’t have a job, and my father was bringing in the money. There were 12 kids. I’m the 10th, and Anthony is the 11th.
There were at least 10 of us living in the same house. We slept in a station wagon that belonged to my father and I think that we stayed in there for about three or four days.
At least six or seven of us did move into a shelter home. Some of the older ones moved in with other people.
RingTV.com: At what point were you back out of the shelter and living on the streets?
LP: We got kicked out of the shelter home after a few months, and from there on we were moving from an aunt’s house to my grandfather’s house, stuff like that.
There were some days on the streets, some days at the bus stops and the bus stations. There were some days we spent at the parks. That went on, off and on, for about two years.
RingTV.com: What were your survival methods?
LP: From ages 6-to-10, my survival skills were to wash windows for money. To steal out of the grocery stores. Pickpocket people.
Snatching money and tips off of the tables at outdoor restaurants. Maybe we would steal a bicycle and sell it.
RingTV.com: Can you explain the situation under which your brother-in-law and former fighter Patrice Harris told trainer Barry Hunter about you being in foster care and led you to Hunter’s boxing gym?
LP: My older sister, Takeisha, was talking to Harris, who was a boxer at the time. Patrice Harris started telling Barry about me and Anthony. He took me and Anthony up there and everything has been good ever since.
It’s like maybe I’ll fight him and then I’ll fight the rematch with Timothy, or I’ll fight Floyd or Manny Pacquiao or someone else. That’s just the way that you’re supposed to think.
RingTV.com: Have your two previous fights against Victor Ortiz and Victor Cayo prepared you for this fight?
But I think that that might help me some. Victor Ortiz, you know, that fight tested something in me that needed to be tested.
You know, there was a situation where things went wrong early, and I adjusted and overcame it. That helped me out I think. Now I know that I won’t lose my head again.
RingTV.com: Does it help you that you rose from knockdowns and fought on in fights against Timothy Bradley and Victor Ortiz, and that he went down against Prescott and did not get up?
So, that just proves that I pay attention to my flaws and the things that I do wrong and that I try to correct them. Each time that you see me fight, you will see a better Lamont Peterson.
RingTV.com: How do you see this fight playing out?
RingTV.com: Looking forward to Tuesday’s press conference in London?
The one on Thursday, they haven’t told me where that is. But when I find out, I’m going to try to let everyone know so that they can come out and offer their support.
RingTV.com: Do you think that he realizes that you had a cold against Ortiz?
But maybe because of what happened in that fight, he will underestimate me and think that I’m not as good as I am.
Or maybe he’ll think that I’m not as strong as I am. Maybe he will think that I can’t take a punch like I can take a punch.
Victor Ortiz can punch, but I can take a better punch than that. On that night, probably anybody could have hit me and I would have gone down.
Maybe it was meant to be that way of course. But maybe it will be a situation where he underestimates me a little bit more because of that fight.
A lot of people say good things about me fighting Victor the way that I did under the conditions that I did. But to me, it’s not that much of a big deal.
RingTV.com: You going to let this guy come over here and beat you in your home town?
I’ve learned enough from the one loss that I had and the draw that I had and the recent fights that I’ve had on the top level. I have learned enough to beat this man.
For this fight, I think that people should expect the best Lamont Peterson that they’ve ever seen. I feel like everything is coming together.
You will see much more speed from me this time. People should expect a good fight. I’ve got a Twitter account now, so they should follow me on Kingpete26. I’m looking forward to the fight.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com