Lamont Peterson: The controversy surrounding Peterson’s split-decision victory over Amir Khan on Saturday in the nation’s capital shouldn’t detract from his victory. One could argue that the new WBA and IBF junior welterweight titleholder deserved the decision regardless of the two points referee Joseph Cooper stole from Khan, which decided the fight. The Briton probably did more work but Peterson might’ve done better work, taking the fight to Khan and landing hard, telling blows throughout. The victory was a major breakthrough for Peterson, who lost to Timothy Bradley and drew with Victor Ortiz in his two most-meaningful fights before Khan. Now he is an elite fighter. He should be applauded for his performance and accomplishment.
Amir Khan: The now-former 140-pound titleholder has reason to be frustrated. He won on one card 115-110 but lost on the other two by identical scores of 113-112. Throw out the two bogus point deductions and he wins 115-110, 114-113 and 114-113. Throw out the point Peterson lost when Cooper ruled erroneously that he was knocked down in the first round and the scores are 115-110, 114-114 and 114-114. That’s a majority draw, which would’ve allowed Khan to keep his title. Alas, Khan was a winner in defeat. He fought well enough to win on my scorecard, which was 113-112 (or seven rounds to five). And he proved he’s more than a fancy boxer; his toughness was as impressive as anything else on Saturday. I like his chances if he and Peterson meet again.
VERY BIGGEST LOSER
Joseph Cooper: The referee from Virginia can argue that his actions were justified based on strict interpretation of the rules, which make it illegal to push an opponent as Khan did repeatedly. Cooper apparently warned Khan before deducting a point in both the seventh and final rounds, which is proper procedure. Here’s the problem: Khan’s actions weren’t nearly flagrant enough to cost him two points. Boxers violate rules in every round of every fight, holding, pushing, rabbit punching, etc. A referee must use common sense to determine when a fighter gains a significant advantage by his actions; clearly, Khan did not in this case. Peterson said as much in the post-fight interview. In the end, Cooper’s poor judgment cost Khan his hard-earned title.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Brian Viloria: The talented little Hawaiian has been counted out a few times in his long career. He went 0-2-1 (with the draw later becoming a no-contest) in 2006-07, an apparent sign that he was in decline. Then, in January of last year, he lost a fight he was wining against Carlos Tamara when he ran out gas in the final round. Was Viloria finished? Just the opposite: He might be better than ever at 31. Viloria dominated and then stopped former junior flyweight titleholder Giovani Segura in the eighth round Sunday in the Philippines, his first defense of the WBO flyweight title he won by outpointing Julio Cesar Miranda in July and his fourth straight triumph. That’s two impressive victories over highly respected opponents, clear evidence that Viloria remains one of the best fighters in the world.
BIGGEST LOSER II
Giovani Segura: The former junior flyweight titleholder was one of the hottest fighters on the planet, having stopped his previous nine opponents. However, Segura might’ve given up his principal advantage over his foes – his physical strength – when he moved up to flyweight. Viloria appeared to be both the more skillful and stronger fighter on Saturday, a combination against which Segura had little chance. Thus, he lost a one-sided fight and soon his place on THE RING’s pound-for-pound list. This isn’t to say Segura should be counted out. One, he lost to one of the better little men of this era. And, two, he can grow into the division even at 29. Segura is a tough fighter; he’ll be back.
Seth Mitchell: The football-player-turned-boxer passed an important test on the Khan-Peterson undercard. Timur Ibragimov isn’t a world beater but he’s a good heavyweight with the kind of amateur background Mitchell, a former linebacker at Michigan State, never had. The fact he was able to stop Ibragimov in only the second round was a sign that he can be a factor in perhaps the weakest division in boxing. We shouldn’t jump the gun, though. Everything that Mitchell has built over the past four years could crumble if he were to face the wrong opponent. He needs a few more fights worth of seasoning before he even thinks about facing the likes of a Klitschko or even the top few Americans. The potential is there, though.
Kery Davis of HBO Sports on a Khan-Peterson rematch: “I’ll talk to both guys, but if they want to do it, we want to do it.”