While Lucas Matthysse was scrambling in Argentina trying to get a new passport, Lamont Peterson was chilling at B.B. Kings Blues Club in Times Square on Wednesday afternoon.
The most heavy lifting Peterson had to do was a string of interviews with reporters at the final press conference for the junior welterweight match at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Showtime on Saturday night. Matthysse, meanwhile, was staring at a 10-hour, 45-minute plane ride to New York and then a 2-hour ride to Atlantic City before he could rest easy.
Getting to town two days before one of the most important boxing matches of his career is not something that will help Matthysse. So, advantage Peterson.
Someone broke into Matthysse’s home in Trelew, Argentina, and burglarized the place. They also defaced his passport, which meant that he had to get another one before he could travel to the U.S. for his fight against Peterson. He got the new passport on Wednesday, but not in time to make a noon-time press conference in Manhattan.
No problems for Peterson, who garnered all the attention at the event. A well-rested, highly motivated opponent will be a handful for Matthysse, who is the favorite in the fight primarily because of his knockout ability.
“It’s not hard for me to believe I’m the underdog,” Peterson said. “I’m always the underdog. In boxing, people are always impressed with knockouts. I guess they think I have mediocre knockout power. But the people that made me the underdog don’t know boxing.”
Even though Peterson’s IBF junior welterweight title is not on the line for this fight, he is treating it as a championship match. He considers Matthysse a worthy opponent and said he ranks up there with some of the best that he’s fought, including Amir Khan, Victor Ortiz and Timothy Bradley.
But Peterson said Matthysse must recognize who is the best in the division, the most talent-rich weight class in boxing.
“In the division I place myself at the top, No. 1. I’ve been at the weight class for a long time, fighting top guys,” he said. “I’ve got that one loss to Timothy Bradley and then he moved up to welterweight. Some of the guys they say are the best guys, Amir Khan, I beat him. I’m the one who has put the most work in at the weight class. So I consider myself the best.”
If he gets past Matthysse, Peterson said he wants to fight two more times this year and clean up the division. He has narrowed down the list of future opponents.
“Danny Garcia and Mike Alvarado, guys like that I know will give me a tough fight,” he said. “They’re right underneath me in my eyes.”
Peterson said he is well-rested after being out of the ring for 14 months before fighting Kendall Holt on Feb. 22. Though he had a positive test for testosterone that cancelled his rematch with Khan, Peterson said he wants to make it clear that he wasn’t suspended from boxing. The long absence was due to a series of matches falling through.
Typically world champions don’t keep the kind of schedule that will have them in the ring four times a year. But Peterson and Barry Hunter, his trainer and manager, don’t think it will be a problem. Peterson last fought four times in 2007. Since then he has averaged two fights a year.
“I’ve had a long rest and I’m in good shape and I’m healthy, so I’m ready to keep fighting,” Peterson said. “Those 14 months was the longest time I haven’t had a fight in 18 years. In some ways it was a good thing because it gave me time to heal.”
It also gave Peterson time to reflect on boxing and make some changes in management. He switched promoters and went with Golden Boy Promotions, because he said the company was loaded with junior welterweights and welterweights.
“Golden Boy has all the top stars at 140 and 147 pounds,” Hunter said. “They have all the talent. If we wanted to fight that top talent we needed to be with them. It was either that or sit on the sidelines waiting for mandatories.”
And both Peterson and Hunter had enough sitting and waiting in 2012. Hunter said he was the one that was discouraged and needed to be motivated while Peterson sat out for 14 months.
“It was a case of the student teaching the teacher,” Hunter said. “Lamont was the one who was calling me and pushing me to get to the gym. He stayed focused on boxing.”
In a sense Peterson feels like he has to make up for lost time. So for the second time in three months, he will step in against another threat in the 140-pound division, albeit an opponent who won’t be nearly as rested as Peterson is.
“If he could, he’d fight every other month,” Hunter said of Peterson.
Photos: Jeff Bottari-Golden Boy Promotions/Gettyimages; Delane Rouse-Golden Boy Promotions; Jim Watson-AFP/Gettyimages