“Pleasant” isn’t the word many people associate with a boxer’s training camp, one of the most physically taxing periods of time a human being can endure. But it’s exactly the word Lamont Peterson used to describe his training camp in advance of this weekend’s fight.
There’s a good reason for that word making a cameo. Peterson has been struggling for some time to make the 140-pound limit. But when he faces David Avanesyan Saturday on Showtime on the undercard of Adrien Broner vs Adrian Granados, he’ll be doing it seven pounds north, at welterweight. And it’s making a world of difference, he said.
“It’s much better so far, much more pleasant,” he said in a recent interview with The Queensberry Rules. “I stay in shape the whole year, but getting to 140 is tough. I’m coming down from so far up. I manage my weight, mostly staying in the low ’50s. In the summertime I got down to 143. To be able to fight at welterweight and not lose as much, I’ve got much more energy. It feels good to eat whatever you want to eat.”
There’s plenty more for Peterson to like. He’s coming off a very long layoff, having last fought in October of 2015, and he’s about to move into one of the deepest, most wide-open divisions in the sport. Any string of good wins could cement a 147-pounder as the best of the best, and Peterson, by joining the welterweight ranks, has a shot at the big time.
And Peterson hopes to make a splash should he beat Avanesyan.
“For me, I always wanted to be the best guy in my division,” he said. “That’s what I’ll be shooting for. I really don’t care who I fight next. I just want to fight. I don’t think there’s a real clear guy at 147 at the top. ”
Barry Hunter, his trainer, said Peterson looks terrific in camp — a thing a lot of trainers say, but in this case, there’s been a change since last camp.
“He looks good. He’s a gym rat. He stays in the gym whether he has a fight or not. Our philosophy is if you stay ready you don’t have to worry about getting ready,” Hunter said. “His frame suggests he could move up even another weight class or two. His last two fights, he’s had bad, bad body cramps. He had to lose too much water. He held that weight ever since the amateurs. I definitely think [his power] should improve as far as moving up in weight. You have mass along with the speed of the punch.”
Peterson’s last fight left a bad taste in a lot of fans’ mouths. He got a decision victory over Felix Diaz that few felt he deserved. That’s Peterson’s career: Some close wins, some close losses, many of them controversial. Peterson said he doesn’t let it affect him.
“Honestly, I thought I won the fight. If it was a loss I would’ve felt some kind of way about it,” he said. “I was getting weak at the end. For the most part I thought I had it under control. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I don’t ignore it. I listen to everyone and how they feel. A lot of the time when a fight’s close you’re going to have that. I’m going to respect the judges.”
Neither Peterson nor Hunter would say a cross word toward adviser Al Haymon over the long ring absence since, noting that they trusted his judgment entirely. Peterson said he had some injuries besides in the meantime that might have made it difficult for him to accept a fight even if one was offered.
So what to make of Avanesyan?
Some fighters closely scrutinize their opponents. Others leave it up to their trainers.
Peterson is more like the former.
“I’ve watched a few of his fights,” Peterson said. “I watched him fight with Shane Mosley and I think one other guy. I don’t think it’s anything I haven’t saw before. I’m sure I’ll be totally prepared.”
If Peterson is able to fight at 147 like he did at 140, but with a little extra oompf thanks to being more comfortable at the weight, he could make waves. Avanesyan, despite having just one marquee win, will give some sense of whether that’s possible.
(Lamont Peterson; photo via Stephanie Trapp, Showtime)