(Barry Hunter, left; Lamont Peterson, right)
Before Lamont Peterson fought Dierry Jean last month, all of the chatter was about was about whether there was enough left of the past, pre-Lucas Matthysse knockout version of Peterson.
A few weeks later, now that Peterson has answered that chatter definitively with a sharp, entertaining performance in his victory over Jean in front of a raucous hometown D.C. crowd that aired on Showtime, all of the chatter in Peterson’s camp is about the wide open future.
Danny Garcia. A rematch with Matthysse or Timothy Bradley. Brandon Rios. Even Floyd Mayweather. These are the names on the list for Peterson and his trainer, Barry Hunter, and while some of them are improbable for one reason or another, a fresh, good win in Peterson’s front pocket is a handy thing to have in a loaded 140-147 pound weight range for boxing.
“Right now, he’s in a very, very good spot,” Hunter said in an interview this week with TQBR. And whether he stays at junior welterweight or moves up to welter, Hunter said, “Either way, we’re looking for a very, very big fight.”
Hunter and Peterson spent some time in separate interviews examining the recent past, like the fight against Jean; the slightly more distant past, including a tale about some pre-fight oddness in New Jersey before taking on Matthysse; the near future, like Lamont getting back into the ring in April or May and his brother Anthony doing the same in March; and what might be up for Lamont in the fall.
The Recent Past
Both Hunter and Peterson were pleased with his performance in the unanimous decision over Jean, even if they saw things they wanted to fix upon reviewing the tape.
“I thought he did great, to be off as long as he had,” Hunter said. “We like to stay busy in the game. Overall the miscues were minor, easily fixed, and he did a very, very good job. A couple times I saw some rushing of the shot. I got on him about pulling straight back. The rust was very little. It kind of went pretty much as planned, just a few miscues.”
Said Peterson: “I did watch the fight on TV two or three times. I was able to pick up on things I did well. I did some things I need to improve on. I thought that I used my jab well so I’m going to continue to do that. I still need to, when I’m moving around the ring, instead of squaring myself up, be ready to punch. Little, small things. One mistake in boxing can cost you the fight. Just focus on certain things, placing my punches a little better, making sure I’m sitting down on them correct.”
Hunter had said before the fight he wanted to see Peterson be more cerebral, box more and avoid the dogfights in which he often finds himself. Although some ringside observers thought the game plan changed after a couple rounds where Jean was competing well in a pure boxing match, Hunter and Peterson said that wasn’t the case.
Rather, it was a switch in strategy based on Hunter’s observations in the ring, he said.
“Down the stretch I saw a little kink in his armor, so I sent him in behind the jab,” Hunter said of Jean. “In the young fella’s case, I noticed he was only shooting single jabs, and when Lamont got close to him he was uncomfortable fighting on the inside. As Lamont progressed forward, that’s what I saw. So I wanted him to be more aggressive.”
Although junior welterweight champion Garcia is occupied in March with a different opponent on Showtime, Mauricio Herrera, and has talked before about moving up to welterweight, the Peterson camp isn’t concerned that the chance for the fight has passed.
If Peterson gets back into the ring soon, he figures, he and Garcia could meet in the fall. And Peterson would rather the fight be at 140 pounds, he said, because it would mean more — Garcia is the #1 man in the division in his book and they have three belts between them.
“I think that I have fought a lot of top guys at the weight class. Out of all the guys, he’s one of the guys I haven’t fought,” Peterson said.
Peterson and Hunter both talked up the title belts as an angle for the Garcia fight, but before the Jean fight Peterson dismissed them as meaningless. Hunter said he shared Peterson’s view on them: “Throw the belts out. You’ll see a guy nobody knows about ranked 50 or 70 and the next thing he’s in the top 10 ad then shortly after that in a mandatory for a world title fight.” He added, “People get too hung up on the belts and wins and losses and that’s why we can’t have the great fights,” referring back to a time when Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns all fought each other multiple times, win or lose.
But if Peterson can’t get Garcia for whatever reason, Hunter sees a variety of good options. He said he thought fights could happen with Top Rank or HBO fighters like Rios or Bradley despite Peterson being promoted by Golden Boy and appearing on Showtime — opposite sides of the Cold War that has consumed the sport.
“If the public demands it, and puts emphasis on the demand, it can happen,” Hunter said.
The list of targets even includes Mayweather, whom Hunter said Peterson respects; generally, if Peterson wants to fight someone, it’s because he respects him, Hunter explained.
“Floyd, who would not want to fight the kingpin of boxing right now?” Hunter said.
And Hunter said he and Peterson would want a Matthysse rematch. Why would it be any different, though?
The More Distant Past
Peterson and Hunter said he was weakened by having an inordinate amount of blood drained on the day before the Matthysse fight by New Jersey boxing regulators.
The story is convoluted, but Peterson said some of his bloodwork from D.C. was deemed insufficient, so he had to get additional blood withdrawn the day of the fight.
“She takes four (vials) from me. Then she brings out the red top. I’ve been doing blood work since I was 16. I said, ‘That’s not a tube you would fill blood up with. You don’t have to take all this blood from me,’” Peterson explained. “Eventually I did it. I was thinking about pulling out of the fight, I felt like we wasn’t being treated fair. The more blood you lose the weaker you’re going to feel. But I’m thinking, I’ll leave this in God’s hands, and whatever happens, happens. I’m thinking I’m going to win the fight and I truly believe I’m the better fighter.”
Initially, Peterson said, the woman was “saying it was random (drug testing). ‘Why are you taking all this blood?’ Because she’s just doing what she’s told.” But later, “She said that the commissioner told her to do this drug testing on me. It wasn’t random like she said.”
Peterson and Hunter said Matthysse didn’t have to go through a similar ordeal. But why wait so long to tell the story, a version of which first surfaced just before the Jean fight? “Lamont didn’t want to make any excuses, didn’t want to take nothing away from Lucas Matthysse,” Hunter said. But Peterson mentioned it when answering a question before the Jean fight, spontaneously.
An official with the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, counsel Nick Lembo, disputed the details of the Peterson-Matthysse story.
“New Jersey performs blood, urine and hair drug testing on combat sport contestants,” Lembo said via e-mail. “It was not an inordinate amount of blood taken. Per ringside physicians, we do not withdraw an amount that could negatively affect performance."
“Peterson also needed Hep B, Hep C, HIV, CBC, PT and PTT blood testing as do all contestants,” Lembo continued. “He was treated no differently than other contestants who have had blood drawn.”
Hunter also said that Peterson never recovered from some rabbit punches, something they said shortly after the fight as well. And Peterson lost his composure in the Matthysse fight, the trainer said.
“The plan was to box him early and fight him late. He has tremendous power but it’s not the same after six rounds,” Hunter said. “I turn around and he’s at war with this dude. Danny Garcia had the same plan and stuck to his plan. He stayed focused and beat him.”
The Near Future
For now, Peterson is getting back into the gym. He said he sparred 12 straight rounds on Wednesday. Peterson is a heavy spar-er –“I hear guys saying they sparred 100 rounds in a training camp like it’s a big number. If I sparred 100 rounds for a training camp I’d be upset. I do that in two to three weeks” — but said he doesn’t worry about leaving too much of his career in the gym, as some trainers and experts argue happens with heavy sparring. “Whatever works for you. That’s their feeling and that’s the way they look at it,” Peterson said. For his own part, “Timing and all of those things mean more.”
He wants to fight again in April or May to keep busy, a point of emphasis for Hunter and the Peterson brothers. Anthony has been particularly sporadic in his ring schedule and has pulled out of fights here and there, which Hunter said can be attributed in one case to not being able to work out a deal with Golden Boy. The latest case involves Anthony taking a fight in March rather than fighting on his brother’s undercard.
Hunter said an opponent hasn’t been approved yet, but he and Lamont are looking forward to Anthony’s return. Anthony was a vocal presence at Lamont’s fight with Jean, but the pairing on past cards has made it harder for them to be ringside for one another.
“He’s been on some good layoffs,” Lamont said. “I haven’t saw him fight in two and a half years. I don’t even be in the arena by the time he fights. I’m anxious to actually see him fight. He looks sharp in the gym.”
Lamont said he was still comfortable at 140 and would be for the near future. He said he was able to make weight for the Jean fight with little trouble thanks to working with a nutritionist who emphasized eating the right foods at the right time and that Hunter said emphasized organic food as well.
Hunter said there’s been no change in the diagnosis of low testosterone that led to the synthetic testosterone treatment that in turn led to a failed drug test before the Amir Khan rematch. But he said it hasn’t been a problem and he hasn’t received medical treatment. “We changed our diet, and some of the things we do, hyperbaric chamber,” Hunter said.
After the drug test incident with Khan, Peterson said he would be willing to use advanced drug testing for bigger fights than the Kendall Holt bout, since the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency services add to expenses, but Peterson has been on Showtime twice since and hasn’t used either. When asked why not, Hunter said he would still be willing to do so if both fighters would subject themselves to the tests.
Hunter also said that the random drug tests that the Peterson camp administers to Lamont independently — which this site has questioned the value of in opinion pieces, since the tests are self-administered — are documented in a way where if there was an incident, the public would be able to view the documents and have confidence in the validity of the tests.
Whatever is next for Lamont, Hunter said his charge has established that it’s must-watch.
“He’s one of them old school fighters. He’s a throwback. He don’t make a whole bunch of noise. He just comes down to fight,” Hunter said. “He can’t fight a boring fight if he wants to.”