Newly-crowned IBF/WBA junior welterweight titlewinner Lamont Peterson was given the keys to his hometown city of Washington, D.C., on Thursday by Mayor Vincent C. Gray at the John A. Wilson building in D.C., which houses Gray and his support staffs.
Rated No. 2 in his division by THE RING, the 27-year-old Peterson (30-1-1, 15 knockouts) dethroned Amir Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) by split-decision on HBO before nearly 9,000 fans at The Washington Convention Center on Dec. 10.
“I’m looking out at the weather today, and the sun is shining and everything is wonderful,” said Peterson’s manager and trainer, Barry Hunter. “With all that this kid has been through in his life, you can’t tell me that there isn’t a God.”
Lamont was present at the 1 p.m. ceremony with his younger brother, 26-year-old lightweight standout Anthony Peterson (31-1, 20 knockouts), who scored a decision over Daniel Attah the Khan-Peterson undercard.
“You look at those two dudes, and you look at the wars of their paths of the past, it’s amazing that they’ve gotten to where they are,” said Hunter of the siblings, who grew up on the tough, Southeast section of Washington, D.C.
“You look at the struggles they had to go through to get to where they are, and to see Lamont win the title, and now, to watch Lamont get the keys to the city? I just can’t say anything else, man.”
The Peterson brothers fended for themselves in the streets of Southeast Washington, D.C. starting at the ages were 5 and 6, respectively, after their father was jailed on drug charges, and their mother was left to care for seven children.
They went from foster care to the streets and back. 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, that is, until meeting Hunter.
“I constantly tell kids who are in similar situations as what we were in when we talk to them that there is always a way out of it. You just have to believe and stay focused on what you’re doing and you have to stay dedicated to what you’re doing,” said Lamont Peterson.
“You have to really want to make the changes. But I never pictured getting award of this nature. It’s a great feeling. I just really hope that our story is one that touches as many people as possible.”
During the wee hours of Dec. 11, Anthony Peterson stood in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., still marveling at his older brother’s accomplishment.
“Tonight was for the slums of America. Not only for South East D.C., but for all the slums in Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, California, everywhere. Now they’ve got a hero,” said Anthony Peterson.
“This dude, my brother, Lamont, he overcame every obstacle that came his way. Homelessness. Foster care. On the verge of getting adopted. What else can you say? To see him come from all of that and to win a championship, I cried. So now, like I said, they have a hero. D.C. We’re here.”
Long after their fight, Lamont Peterson and Khan were being treated, side-by-side, for their bumps and bruises at nearby George Washington Hospital.
“I’m proud of my performance. I’m proud that D.C. showed up tonight. That really pushed me on in there when things got rough, and I appreciate that. It’s always going to be rough in there at this level,” said Lamont Peterson during the post-fight press conference.
“But things are always going to be rough for me. I never get anything easy. So I’m always prepared for a backyard fight, and that’s what it was. I was victorious.”
In defeating Khan, Peterson improved to 3-0-1, with two knockouts since losing by unanimous decision to RING No. 8-rated pound-for-pound Tim Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs) in a failed effort to win the WBO belt in December of 2009.
Peterson, who earned a career-high $650,000 to Khan’s guaranteed $1.1 million, is also considering a rematch with Bradley, whose manager, Cameron Dunkin, and his promoter, Top Rank Inc. CEO, Bob Arum, have all said they would be up for negotiating a return bout with Peterson.
“Barry said that we’re not going to talk about anything until after the holidays and the New Year, which is another week and a half away. But once we get together and we talk then we’ll discuss all of the options and everything that’s gointg to happen,” said Peterson.
“As of right now, of course, we’ve got the rematch with Khan on the table, and, possibly, a rematch with Timothy Bradley. I haven’t heard about anything else. Plus, I’ll have mandatory challenges for both belts. We’ll look at those options as well.”
Photo courtesy of Barry Hunter
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com