LOS ANGELES – Tickets for Lamont Peterson-Amir Khan II have only been on sale for a few days but the anticipated rematch has already sold a few hundred thousand dollars worth of seats, according to Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who was on hand along with the fighters at the Grammy Museum at L.A. LIVE on Monday.
Khan’s representatives proudly announced that they’ve already sold close to 4,000 tickets in the United Kingdom and will request another block of 2,000 during the L.A. media conference, which was the final stop of a three-city, two-continent press tour for the HBO-televised rematch that takes place at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on May 19. Peterson’s representatives reported that they have nearly sold out of their pre-sale ticket allotment to fans in the 28-year-old junior welterweight’s hometown, Washington, D.C.
Those are impressive early ticket sales for a Las Vegas-based fight that doesn’t involve Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather. In fact, it’s pretty darn good when one considers that Peterson-Khan II falls between Mayweather’s May 5 showdown with Miguel Cotto and Pacquiao’s June 9 welterweight title defense against Timothy Bradley, both of which take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“I’m not surprised the fight is doing as well as it is,” Schaefer said. “It’s a fight that fans wanted to happen.”
And tickets for the rematch, which range from $50 to $300, are available and affordable to the general public, unlike seats to the two mega-bouts in May and June. Also, fans know the Peterson-Khan matchup promises action and drama.
Their first bout, which Peterson won by split decision last December, was an intense, fast-paced 12 rounder that featured world-class boxing mixed in with hardcore fighting. However, the bout, which took place in Washington, D.C., wasn’t without controversy. The hometown referee penalized Khan a point for pushing in the seventh and 12throunds, deductions that cost the 25-year-old British star his IBF and WBA 140-pound titles.
However, Peterson says he did not accept Khan and Golden Boy Promotions’ generous rematch offer because of any controversy – real or perceived. He did so because he believes, as Schaefer stated, it’s what the fans wanted.
“It wasn’t easy to get this rematch made because Lamont Peterson had many options after the first fight, options that he wanted to evaluate before he made a choice,” Schaefer said. “It was a game of patience for us. Khan could have taken other fights, but he wanted this one and agreed to do a 50-50 split – something he’s never done with another opponent – to get it done.”
Peterson said the choice came down to the Khan rematch and a fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, which was offered by Top Rank. He said the showdown with the Mexican legend was enticing, in part because Top Rank CEO Bob Arum proposed that the winner could get a shot at Pacquiao, but he went with Khan after reading what fans had to say about the Marquez matchup on the internet.
“When websites started announcing that I might fight Marquez I read a lot of comments from fans who were upset about it,” Peterson told RingTV.com. “They didn’t like that fight. They wanted the rematch, and as a fan myself, I could understand where they were coming from. The first fight with Khan was a lot of fun, it was a good fight. So why not do it again? And why not do it now, while the memory of the first fight is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
“I remember watching good fights on TV when I was younger and hoping the fighters would do it again soon, but then the rematch wouldn’t happen until six or seven years later when the fighters weren’t in their primes and the fight wasn’t as good as the first one. I didn’t want to do that to the fans. We might as well get this rematch out of the way when we are in our primes and while the fight is hot.”
That is what is happening and Khan couldn’t be happier.
“I believe I won the first fight,” the 2004 Olympic silver medalist said during his turn behind the podium. “But it went the full 12 and it was a tough, close fight. I know I made mistakes during the first fight and I know I can do better.
“I’ve started this camp earlier, and I’ll put in 15 weeks, to make sure I have time to work on the mistakes I made. I’m hungrier than I was. It’s hard to be hungry and correct your mistakes when you’re winning all the time.”
Khan and his celebrated trainer Freddie Roach realize that he won’t get back to his winning ways unless he makes the right adjustments.
“We’ll make our adjustments, they’ll make theirs and we’ll see – between me and (Peterson’s trainer) Barry Hunter – who makes the smarter ones,” said Roach.
Khan will be the first pro opponent that Peterson has fought twice, but he had many multi-fight rivalries in the amateur ranks where he won two major national titles and narrowly missed making the 2004 U.S. Olympic squad. Peterson said he was a much better fighter the second or third time he faced a difficult opponent, such as Rock Allen, who beat him in the U.S. Olympic trials.
“Rock beat me hands down the first two times we fought,” Peterson admitted. “He was a little too strong, a little too everything for me, but after those two bouts every fight we had was very close, I beat him and I thought I won some of the close ones I lost.
“There was a guy named Maxell Taylor from the Baltimore/D.C. area who beat me the first two times we fought, and then I beat him 14 times in a row. Eventually, I figured out every boxer who ever gave me trouble in the amateurs. I’m the same way in sparring. I’m always better the second or third day.”
If Peterson does indeed improve on his first performance, which was as gutty as they come, Khan had better make the adjustments he says he will or risk getting overwhelmed by the tenacious American.
Khan, who will begin his camp in the Philippines alongside Roach’s other star, Pacquiao, vows that he will, which is good news for the many fans who have already purchased tickets for the rematch.
“It’s going to be another another Fight-of-the-Year candidate,” promised Khan. “Count on that.”
Photos by Gene Blevins-Hoganphotos / Golden Boy Promotions
Email Doug Fischer at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer