On Dec. 10 of last year, Lamont Peterson took Amir Khan‘s IBF and WBA junior welterweight belts in an action-packed fight that ended with a split-decision for Peterson in front of his hometown fans at the Washington Convention Center.
It should have been the crowning achievement of a man who grew up homeless in the streets of Southeast Washington, D.C., with his younger brother, Anthony, before meeting manager and trainer, Barry Hunter, and launching a boxing career that got all the way to a double world title and a payday of $650,000 against Khan.
Khan, however, saw the decision as an early Christmas gift to Peterson.
The excitement of the the fight was swiftly overshadowed by the controversy brought on by Khan and his promoter filing appeals citing a poorly officiated bout and scorecard descrepancies.
On Thursday, Peterson (30-1-1, 15 knockouts) chose to face Khan in a return bout, rendering moot an order by the WBA for a rematch.
“I feel really good about my decision. I went over every option available to me in terms of the fights that were on the table,” said Peterson. “I weighed each one of them, looking at the pros and the cons, and at the end of the day, this is the one that made the most sense all the way across the board.”
Peterson selected Khan over an offer to face RING lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez on July 14 at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
“I want everyone to know that, as champion, it has always been up to me what fight to take next. I was not persuaded by any of the controversy or anything else. I just can’t wait to fight. I told Khan after the press conference when I won that if it was up to me I would fight him on Sunday,” said Peterson.
“But I had to get with my team to look at every option that was out there. I just want to be clear that I never said I wouldn’t fight him, but I wanted to take a look at everything that was but there before I made a decision. I’m happy with the terms of the fight. It’s at a neutral site and, when I beat him this time, he won’t have anything to complain about.”
Chief among Khan’s complaints were the ringside actions of IBF affiliate Mustafa Ameen, who has been dubbed the “Mystery Man” as a result of behavior that was caught on video. Ameen appeared to pick up a yellow scoring slip near WBA ringside scoring official Michael Welsh at one point.
“It’s clear I wasn’t happy with what went on in the previous fight, but that takes nothing away from how Lamont Peterson fought. He showed tremendous heart that night. But now I have the chance to prove once and for all that I’m the very best in the division,” said Khan.
“I’m going to take care of business inside the ring and this fight is going to be just as exciting as the last one. The only difference is going to be in the outcome.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org