RingTV.com caught up with junior welterweight beltholder Lamont Peterson on Monday evening, hours after the Washington, D.C., resident shocked the boxing world by signing with Golden Boy Promotions in advance of his scheduled IBF title defense against ex-beltholder Kendall Holt on Feb. 22 at The D.C. Armory.
Peterson-Holt, which is promoted by Gary Shaw, will be the main event of ESPN2′s Friday Night Fights.
Peterson’s union with Golden Boy was surprising in light of his acrimonious past with the Los Angeles-based promotional company.
When Peterson (30-1-1, 15 knockouts) dethroned Amir Khan as IBF and WBA junior welterweight beltholder in December of 2011, his triumph sparked what seemed to be an endless run of rancor-filled controversy between the fighters’ camps as well as Khan’s promoter, Golden Boy, and Team Peterson.
Initially, Golden Boy filed an appeal with the IBF and WBA seeking to overturn the victory or get an order for an immediate rematch on the grounds that the fight, which took place in Peterson’s hometown of Washington, D.C., was poorly officiated and that there were scorecard descrepancies.
Team Peterson, headed by the fighter’s manager and trainer, Barry Hunter, later filed an official appeal against the WBA’s order for an immediate rematch.
Both parties later agreed to in February of last year with intentions of having a return bout on May 19 of last year at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.
But in March, Peterson, 28, failed drug a drug test, coming up dirty for testosterone pellets. As a result of the infraction, Peterson-Khan II was canceled, and the WBA stripped Peterson of his belt and reinstated Khan, who was subsequently knocked out in the fourth round in July by current RING, WBA and WBC 140-pound champion Danny Garcia.
“With respect to what has happened in the past, whatever happened in the past is in the past. The bottom line is that Barry’s a professional, I’m a professional, and we’re all professionals here. At the end of the day, we want to make the best fights,” said Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez.
“That’s what [Golden Boy President] Oscar [De La Hoya] asks of us, and that is to make the best fights. So [Peterson is] one of the best fighters in boxing today, in any division. Lamont Peterson is a champion, so, we feel that we can make some big, big fights with him.”
Meanwhile, the IBF declined to strip Peterson after a review of his medical records by IBF-appointed doctors ruled that the testosterone levels discovered in Peterson’s failed drug test were not at a level that would enhance his performance.
Peterson is 3-0-1 with two knockouts since falling by unanimous decision to current WBO welterweight beltholder Tim Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) as a 140-pounder in December of 2009, and had been considered for a return bout with Bradley which never came to fruition.
Peterson will be ending what will have been a 14-month ring absence when he faces Holt, and, in victory, could earn a potential rematch with Khan, a unification bout with Garcia, or, perhaps, even a showdown with RING No. 1-rated junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse (33-2, 31 KOs) — all of whom are handled by Golden Boy.
“The Holt fight is an important fight, but we have confidence in Lamont that he should win the fight. It’s a dangerous fight, but if Lamont is on his A-game, he should beat Kendall Holt,” said Gomez.
“What Barry said to me was that Lamont wants to fight all of the big names, and that means anybody. Matthysse, Garcia, Amir Khan. They want big fights, and that’s what made the deal. Lamont is a guy who is willing to fight the best, and Golden Boy is willing to make fights like that. It’s a perfect fit.”
Peterson spoke to RingTV.com regarding the recent developments in this Q&A, below.
RingTV.com: Why Golden Boy and why now?
Lamont Peterson: My whole reason was the fact that if you look at the top guys in the 140-pound division, at this point, the Top Rank fighters, they’ve moved up to 147 pounds.
Top Rank only has Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado at 140. But with Golden Boy, they have a lot of the top, top 140-pounders out there. And, as for me, I just want to fight the best guys out there.
So, at this point, signing with Golden Boy (was an) option for what I saw. They have the best fighters and, to me, that was the best route to go in order to make and be involved in the best fights in the 140-pound division.
So with that in mind, my thinking was that, hopefully, now that I’ve signed on with Golden Boy, we can make these fights happen.
RTV: Is there a particular fighter after Holt that you would want in order — Matthysse, Khan or Garcia?
LP: It wouldn’t make a difference to me which one would come first. But I would like to fight all three. That’s part of the reason that I signed on with Golden Boy. I just want to get right into the mix with those guys.
RTV: But if you lose to Holt, everything goes away, right?
LP: Well, that’s pretty important to win the Holt fight. It’s a very big fight and you don’t want to be coming off of a loss or anything like that.
To me, that won’t feel right at all. I want to win every fight and I know that the Holt fight is a very important fight and a very big fight. So I’m going in and I’m going into it to win.
RTV: What do you say to your fans who wonder why you would sign with Golden Boy in light of the tremendous rancor that has existed between your team and their organization?
LP: Well, I can tell you this much, that it wasn’t just about the money. It wasn’t about money at all. It’s just about my career and my legacy at the end of the day when I retire.
There are a lot of fighters at 140 pounds, but I don’t see any of them beating me. I definitely want to go and get a chance to go out and face top fighters.
At this point, even though the Khan rematch fell through, I definitely want to fight him again. Because at this point, people are still saying that I needed steroids or whatever they want to call it to beat him.
So me going out and getting a victory over him or any of the other top guys, that will prove to everybody that regardless of how you look at it, whether you want to believe me or not or think that I can fight or not, you can not doubt that I’m an elite fighter and one of the best 140-pounders out there.
That’s something that I feel like I still want to prove to everyone, and I feel that the best way to do it is by fighting some of those guys.
I need to beat Kendall Holt, because he’s still top fighter. He’s not a world champion at this point, but he knows how it feels to be a world champion, and, of course, he wants to be a world champion again.
So I’m definitely looking from a tough fight from him, and beating him will kind of put a lot of that steroid stuff to rest.
A victory over Kendall Holt will help me to close that door so that we don’t have to talk about no drugs or steroids or testosterone or anything like that anymore.
Photo by Juan Marshall
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Juan Marshall
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com