Five months after having officiated Lamont Peterson’s disputed split-decision win over Amir Khan to take the IBF and WBA junior welterweight titles, Virginia-based referee Joe Cooper has broken his silence concerning his actions in the fight.
Peterson (30-1-1, 15 knockouts) benefited from separate one-point deductions against Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) for pushing in both the seventh and 12th rounds. In addition, Khan was credited for flooring Peterson only once when, in fact, his rival hit the deck twice in the first round — with the other time being ruled a push.
Cooper shared his thoughts on the bout during an interview with Roundobout.com on Saturday night at the Washington DC Convention Center, site of the Peterson-Khan fight.
“I’ve got people asking me why I let it go so long, why I didn’t take more points away, why I didn’t disqualify them. Like I told them, he [Khan] wasn’t pushing that hard. Only to the point when he wasn’t listening. When he [Khan] wasn’t listening, then I had to make sure. By the rules, it’s not right if you can push off and shove a person,” said Cooper.
“It’s not right…But the bottom line is that it came to the best man won the fight, whoever it was, and I just went by the rules. In actuality, it came down to the judges. Peterson got two points taken away from him for a knockdown, and Khan got two points taken away from him. So in actuality, I didn’t have nothing to do with the fight at all.”
New Jersey’s George Hill and North Carolina’s Valerie Dorsett each had it for Peterson, 113-112, while Nelson scored the fight for Khan, 115-110. RingTV.com had Khan winning, 113-112.
Khan’s promoter, Golden Boy, initially appealed the decision to the IBF and the WBA seeking the restoration of the belts. Golden Boy argued that there were scoring discrepancies and that the match was poorly officiated by Cooper, who penalized Khan for pushing Peterson’s head down in the seventh, and for shoving Peterson away in the 12th.
At the time, Khan’s trainer, Freddie Roach, claimed that Cooper never gave Khan an explanation for the 12th round penalty, and believed that Cooper should have awarded Khan two first-round knockdowns.
“There was no explanation. He did a terrible job. Referees shouldn’t decide fights. He’s not a judge. He made himself a judge tonight. He missed a knockdown, which was clear. The first knockdown was clearer than the second one, if you call the second one a knockdown,” said Roach at the post-fight press conference.
“He took two points away for nothing and didn’t give warnings. This was like an amateur referee. A referee at this level of competition shouldn’t make those mistakes. The thing is, he decided the fight, not the judges. The referee did it. He took it out of the judges hands, which is bulls–t.”
Even Peterson said he was not given an explanation for the final round penalty.
“At that point in the fight, I really don’t know. I wasn’t paying attention to it. I just wanted to go out there, throw punches and win the fight,” said Peterson.
“When he broke the action, I was trying to tell him that he was pushing my head down a lot, so I thought that he would take a point for that. I heard him say that he was taking a point for pushing.”
Golden Boy later withdrew their proposals, and Peterson agreed to a rematch that was scheduled for May 19. That return bout has been canceled, however, in the wake of Peterson’s having tested positive for testosterone in March.
The result has renewed a request by Golden Boy for the IBF, WBA and the Washington, DC Boxing and Wrestling Commission to declare a no-contest after Peterson’s admission that he had taken the banned substance less than a month before facing Khan.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org