WASHINGTON, D.C. — This city clearly has craved some boxing, as the racous thousands showed Saturday night, and they got as tasty a serving of it as they could when hometown boy Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan went to war in a Fight of the Year candidate where Peterson upset the much more acclaimed talent.
The final scorecards read 113-112 twice for Peterson and 115-110 for Khan, whereas my score was 113-112 for Khan. It’s a fight that could have gone either way — and kind of did, on the scorecards — but the two points referee Joe Cooper took from Khan in the 7th and 12th for shoving/elbowing Peterson were the difference, mathematically, on the scorecards. Those point deductions will probably be debated hotly for several days, but I wasn’t crazy about them. Both men were fouling a fair amount, Khan a good deal more than Peterson, but I didn’t see anything that warranted deductions, and with this fight being on Peterson’s home turf, naturally there are already questions.
Khan began the better, scoring a knockdown in the 1st round that wasn’t, and not getting a knockdown call in that one I thought he deserved. He was faster and busier early, although Peterson started to work his way into things as early in the 2nd with his body attack. In the 3rd, though, Peterson finally forced his way inside and did major damage with his combinations under, around and through Khan’s high guard. Peterson said after the fight that he switched tactics when he realized he couldn’t outbox Khan. From there on out, it was a back and forth affair, with Khan hurting Peterson in the 9th but mostly shoeshining late, and Peterson suffocating Khan with outstanding pressure. Peterson and Khan simply couldn’t get rid of the other, and both refused to take a punch for an answer, and as a result they made for ideal foils.
Khan comes away bitter about the refereeing: “It was like I was going up against two people in there,” he told HBO’s Larry Merchant. But he blamed himself somewhat for not doing enough in his opponent’s neighborhood. “When you’re in D.C. you have to win more convincingly.”
This gives Peterson the win over a top-notch name that he didn’t get against Timothy Bradley or Victor Ortiz, and vindicates his decision to turn down a Khan fight earlier to get better terms later. “As a person, I stand for something,” he said. “I don’t go for anything.” Peterson stood tall Saturday night. And after this performance, now we’ll notice his head above the crowd’s.