Amir Khan's crew probably wished they didn't man up, and travel to foe Lamont Peterson's homebase as they waited for the cards to be read after the main event which took place at the Convention Center in DC on Saturday night. Khan had two points deducted by ref Joe Cooper, for pushing, and it felt like Peterson was getting the royal treatment at home during the scrap. The result was up in the air, as Peterson had some solid luck against the flashy Brit, and all in the arena and watching at home held their breathe while the scores were added up.
Finally, after a lengthy delay, the tallies were in: 113-112 for Peterson, 115-110 (the card was first announced as 114-111) Khan and 113-112, Peterson. Peterson exulted, and the Khan crew shook their heads, and cursed DC more than most Americans do. And that's saying something, as the approval level for Congress sits beneath that of the Kardashians. Did Peterson get helped by home cooking? Should Freddie Roach have read my Tweet after round eight, in which I opined that the trainer should tell Khan to go for the KO, because he could easily lose a decision? Perhaps those questions should be lumped together, and answered in rematch? (UPDATE: I texted Roach, and he answered me that he did indeed push for Amir to go for the stoppage. He also allowed that the fight was "close.")
Here is yet another example of boxing being the road away from poverty, jail or death. As youths, Peterson and his brother Anthony were homeless in DC for long stretches, or left to fend for themselves while their dad was locked up for drug dealing and their mom was overwhelmed. They dealt drugs and pick-pocketed to stay afloat and were by and large destined for a horrid end, or a long career in a prison. But they found boxing, and a purpose. Remind yourselves of this example the next time you are told what a brutal and pointless exercise the sport is.
Stat-wise, Khan went 238-757, while Peterson went 226-573.
Peterson said after he worked hard for the win. The boxer, who was homeless along with his brother Anthony as a kid, said he didn't regret turning down this opportunity last year, for $300,000, and accepting it now for $500,000.
Peterson was asked by Larry Merchant about the point deductions. He said he didn't mind the pushing as much as his head being pushed down. "I wouldn't mind doing it again," he said, when asked about a rematch, and expressing his thanks for getting the shot at Khan.
Khan after said that the ref was against him. "I was against two people in there," he said. He said he was the cleaner fighter, and said he'd do it again. The loser said "Peterson did what he did what he had to do" and reiterated he was the "cleaner" fighter. I think he meant "more accurate," for the record, but Larry challenged him, saying the bout wasn't about being clean.
The WBA and IBF junior welter champ Khan (25; 5-10; 139 pounds, tonight 149; from Bolton, Lancashire, England) entered at 26-1 with 18 KOs, while Peterson (27 5-9 140, 155 tonight; from DC) was 29-1-1 with 14 KOs.
In the first, Khan came out with the speedy jab. Merchant was on his game, offering DC-centric puns, about class warfare and flip flopping, before the first round ended. A left hook put Peterson down, but the ref said it was a slip. Khan's left hook was working, clearly. Peterson did go down, with 25 seconds left, off a right hand. Replay showed the first "knockdown" was off a slip, the second one was iffy, with a right hand landing, but the fighters' legs got a bit tangled. You don't see many fights featuring such speed and energy from the get go.
In the second, Peterson got his sea legs. He advanced on Khan, and landed some body punches. He nodded his head after the round, as if to say, I'm good, I'm in this. It was a tight round, 20-67 for Khan vs 17-37 for Peterson.
In the third, left hooks by Pete, and a right hand upstairs had the crowd buzzing. A right hand had Khan running with 40 seconds to go. Khan roared back, gestured for the DC boxer to bring it. He brought it, and won the round.
In the fourth, Pete landed four lefts and Khan indicated that it did nothing to him. "Peterson's a ninety nine percenter trying to beat a one percenter," said Merchant, working with Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman. "I already want to see the rematch," Merchant said at the end of the round. Khan went 22-72, versus 27-63 for Pete.
In the fifth, Lampley got in the act. "Hell of a fight so far. No filibuster in this ring so far," he said. Pete's D caused trouble. His head movement made Khan miss more than he is used to. Khan's movement helped him take the fifth, a solid round for the Brit.
In round six, Pete stalked Amir, but without mega success. He then landed bombs with 45 seconds to go, but Khan shrugged them off. A right uppercut when Amir had his back to the ropes was a clear scoring shot on replay.
Harold Lederman had Khan up 4-2 after six. "Nine thousand people want to see Lamont Peterson punch, punch, punch!" Lederman said.
In round seven, Pete ripped a hard right. He was generally waiting too much, for the perfect time and opening. His body work, the left hooks to the right side, scored well for Pete. The ref took a point from Khan for pushing at the end of the seventh. That maybe was a two point round for the DC guy.
In the eighth, Merchant said, "We're not disagreeing enough Max. People want us to disagree more." Khan got buzzed at the 1:50 mark. Pete's sneaky quick right was a great option for him. He landed a low left, as well. Khan's trainer Freddie Roach noted after the round that Peterson was punching wide, and wanted him to exploit that.
In the ninth, Pete was ripping shots. His body shots had more oomph on them than Khan's. A right hand wobbled Peterson at 1:10. Peterson's right eye was swollen but not Margarito bad. "This is everything you worked for," Lamont's trainer Barry Hunter told him after.
In the 10th, we heard Lederman say he had Khan up one. Khan was busier in this frame, and he won the round.
In the 11th, we saw both men looking a bit fatigued. Khan told the ref that Pete was butting, but the ref chided the Brit for pushing. Amir ripped and ran, again and again, and one wondered if the judges would appreciate the tactics. "Do you want your dream to die?" Hunter said after. "Put him on his ass," said Roach after.
In the 12th, Khan fired and then jetted, leaving Peterson a step or two behind. The ref took another point for pushing at 1:55 from Khan. But the Brit was the busier man. We'd go to the cards.
Who do you think deserved the nod?