WASHINGTON, D.C. — As children, Lamont and Anthony Peterson were forced to fend for themselves in the streets of Southeast Washington, D.C.
They were 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.
On Thursday, however, the set of clean-cut siblings was sitting on a dais at as part of an afternoon press conference at the W Hotel in downtown Washington, DC., which touted the shot Lamont Peterson (29-1-1, 15 KOs) has to dethrone WBA junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan (26-1, 18 KOs) in a clash that will take place at the Washington Convention Center on Dec. 10.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said the 27-year-old Lamont Peterson, who is nicknamed, “Havoc.”
Lightweight Anthony Peterson (30-1, 20 KOs) will be on the undercard of the main event, and like his older brother, credits manger and trainer Barry Hunter with rescuing them, this, after being brought to him by a close friend and mentor, Patrice Harris.
“Sitting here, I was thinking about all of these other little kids who began this journey with us years ago who are not here right now. Out of all of those kids, you see these two still standing over here,” said Hunter, referring to youth who were lost to the violence of the neighborhood.
“So it’s been a journey. It’s been a journey that wasn’t always easy. I had one pickup truck. I had about 15 kids, believe it or not, that would be in that truck. Nevertheless, they made it through. Those are among the things that make this day and this event so special.”
The Peterson siblings slept in a station wagons, alternately spending “some days on the streets, some days at the bus stops and the bus stations, and there were some days we spent at the parks.”
For money, they washed car windows or resorted to stealing from grocery stores, becoming pick pockets, swiping tips off of the tables at outdoor restaurants, or things such as stealing bicycles and selling them.
“Sleeping in bus depots and in cars and things of that nature. At their age, the average man would have given up. But not only did they not give up, but they found a way to turn this thing around and made it a positive thing that works,” said Hunter.
“They’ve been knocked down and gotten back up. To have the courage that you did, I have all the respect for you in the world. Through the good and bad, they stuck together, and they stuck with me. I give them all the credit in the world. They say how much they look up to me, but no, brother, it’s how much I look up to you.”
Bradley recently signed with Top Rank Inc. and will make an appearance opposite former four-time titleholder and Cuban Olympic gold medalist Joel Casamayor (38-5-1, 22 KOs) on the undercard of the main event between eight division and WBO welterweight beltholder Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) and WBO and WBA lightweight titleholder Juan Manuel Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs) on Nov. 12.
If Bradley and Pacquiao are successful, it it conceivable that they will face each other, given that they are each promoted by Top Rank Inc.
Mayweather and Khan are each promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
Khan said that he was ducked by Mexican legend Erik Morales (52-7, 35 KOs), who wound up becoming the first Mexican-born fighter to earn a fourth title in as many different divisions with a 10th-round knockout over previously-unbeaten Pablo Cesar Cano (22-1, 17 KOs) on Sept. 17.
“Getting fights has been so hard for me lately. I may have to go to 147 not because I can’t make the weight at 140, but because I can’t get enough fights,” said Khan. “Every time I try to get a fight, the negotiations for a fight are so hard. I tried to get Erik Morales. Bradley was another deal that ended up falling out.
“If I can’t get a fight against Bradley or Morales” after Peterson, said Khan, “Then, yes, I’ll move up to 147.”
MAYHEM’S IN TOWN
Nicknamed, “Mayhem,” Mitchell is considered by some to be America’s best chance at ending its heavyweight championship drought.
No U.S.-born fighter has held a heavyweight title since 2007, when Shannon Briggs briefly wore the WBO’s strap. In 2006, Hasim Rahman of Baltimore held the WBC belt while the IBF title was held by Chris Byrd.
Puerto Rican-American John Ruiz was the first Latino to have a belt when he became the WBA champ in 2005.
Vitali is riding an 11-fight winning streak that includes nine stoppages and is the WBC titleholder, while Wladimir owns the WBA, WBO and IBF belts and currently is riding a winning streak of 14 consecutive bouts, with 10 knockouts during that time.
“It’s definitely exciting to be the co-main event. I’m ready to hit the gym and get to work. It’s going to be good times come Dec. 10. This doesn’t put any more pressure on me. I haven’t been in this situation before, but I’m very aware of the distractions,” said Mitchell.
“I’m very aware of how the bright lights and things can overwhelm you, but I’m not going to let it overwhelm me. I’m not going to just go out there and look for the knockouts even though several of my last few opponents have gone out that way. I’m just going to go out there and use the game plan that my trainer Andre Hunter puts together for me and look for more success.”
AN INVITATION TO OBAMA
“Well, we’re going to reach out to a lot of political leaders, including President Obama. I’ve heard many times that he’s a boxing fan, and so, I know some people who have some connections within the administration. So we’re going to reach out and see if we can get him to attend,” said Davis.
“I do know that there is a significant Arab and Muslim community here, and I think that between that, and the United Kingdom fans who will come over and who followed Amir to New York and and Las Vegas, and the two local guys, that we will have a large audience.”
LONG TIME COMING
In an effort to sell out the arena, Golden Boy Promotions CEO, Richard Schaefer said tickets will start at $25 and that they may not cost more than $250.
RING and WBC light heavyweight titleholder Hopkins became the oldest man to win a significant belt when the 46-year-old unanimously decisioned Jean Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KOs) in May, this, after having battled to a disputed draw with Pascal in December.
Both times, Hopkins went to Pascal’s native Canada to accomplish the feat.
“I asked Hopkins why he would go to Canada to fight Jean Pascal, and you know what Hopkins said?” said Schaefer.
“He says, ‘It’s Gangsta'” said Schaefer, who then shifted his gaze to Khan. “So Amir, you are a Gangsta.”
“There will be no isle. They will have to sit together, so hopefully, they can resolve some of their issues today, just as these two fighters have done so at this press conference,” said Schaefer.
“Let’s do it in a polite, first-class manner like the two great, humble athletes that they are. So we’ll see if the congressional section in the venue will be full, or, whether it will be empty. That remains to be seen, but certainly, we will reach out to them.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org