The promotional show for the Lamont Peterson-Amir Khan rematch kicked off in London, England, on Tuesday, with the junior welterweight title clash in Las Vegas, on May 19, billed simply as: ‘No Doubt.’
On the evidence of their straightforward declarations of intent at the Hilton Hotel, it is a headline to which both Peterson, the IBF and WBA 140-pound beltholder, and Khan, the dethroned challenger, fully subscribe.
Peterson (31-1-1, 15 knockouts) is adamant he is no mood to stand to one side and relinquish those titles that he secured in such sensational – albeit contentious – fashion before Christmas. No matter what has been said in the wake of his narrow barnburner points victory over Khan in his hometown of Washington D.C., the 28-year-old dual titleholder feels every bit the champion and is clearly relishing every minute of his deserved new-found status within the sport.
And he has also dismissed out of hand that their forthcoming summer battle may end up being the second of a three-fight extravaganza involving Khan and himself.
“You know, I am enjoying being the champ right now, and I’m just not going to let it go that easy,” said Peterson, THE RING’s No. 2-rated junior welterweight. “I am just going to do everything the same as before. I am always in great shape for each fight. I just follow my man, my coach (Barry Hunter), who comes up with the game-plan. Then I stick to that.
“I don’t feel disrespected by what has happened and been said by Khan and his people. I don’t really know how I feel about it all. What I do know, though, is that on May 19 he will have his chance to change things around. But as it stands now, regardless of what he says, I am the champion and I plan on still being the champ after May 19.
“It seems Team Khan still have problems with what happened in DC. I can only tell them that nothing shady happened, but I’m sure they won’t take my word for it. But I’ll be ready to die in the ring to keep these titles.
“No, there will be no third fight. That can only happen if I lose and I know I will win this fight. Two to nothing. It’s settled. There is no rematch clause.”
Meanwhile English star Khan (26-2, 18 KOs), whose team managed to engineer the Las Vegas return after accusing everyone and everything of being wrong about the way their man was ‘robbed’ of his titles in Peterson’s backyard, insists he now wants to set the record straight once and for all and to get his career back on track. Indeed, according Khan, there is a great deal at stake – for both himself and Peterson.
“It’s definitely a make or break fight for me,” conceded the 25 year old from Bolton, Lancashire. “I am going to be training like a challenger and I’m going to prove to the world how good I am – that I am the champion.
“This is a big fight because I have got so much to lose – and Lamont Peterson has got a lot to lose as well. But this time we are going to put things right. I thought I won the fight last time even though we made mistakes, but this time I am going to do it – without any doubt.
“We want to go in there and win the titles back, and put everything behind us with what happened in DC. I am going to be training harder – and will come back even stronger – just like true champions always do. I did it before when I lost and I will be doing it again. We’re going to be doing altitude training, getting in different sparring partners and, now we have seen how Lamont fights, we know exactly what to work on and what not to work on.
“We will make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again. It’s about going back to the drawing board and doing everything right.”
These opening verbal shots were full of refreshing respect. There was not a morsel of trash-talk from either fighter, which surely stems from the knowledge that, despite all the raging debate over the final result, their first encounter was a 12-round show-stopper, an authentic contender for ‘fight of the year’.
“I decided to take the rematch, not because of anything Khan’s team said or because I feel I have to prove myself to anyone, but because you all thought it was a great fight and that we should do it again,” said Peterson.
A view shared by Khan, who predicts the boxing world is in for a repeat treat and a contest every bit as relentless and exciting as the first.
“I’ll be explosive, as always, and maybe this fight can be one of the fights of the year too,” said Khan, who will spend two weeks training in the Philippines before heading to the States. “It’s the fight people want to see. Everyone in the UK and everyone in the world is talking about this fight.”
Photos by Chris Hutty – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions