My crystal ball being broken, I have no way of knowing what sort of performance Lamont Peterson will turn in on Saturday night, when he attempts to impress loads of friends and family, fighting in his hometown of Washington, DC, and on Showtime, against Canadian Dierry Jean.
But of this I am sure: I find myself being mightily impressed with Peterson's public stance on the result of his last outing, a TKO3 loss to Lucas Matthysse in Atlantic City last May. Peterson, coming in hot, with three straight wins under his belt, against Victor Cayo, Amir Khan and Kendall Holt, got stomped by the Argentine, and trampled a bit more by all the folks rushing to jump on the Matthysse bandwagon.
Ex IBF 140 pound champ Peterson, who'd fought Tim Bradley tough in 2009, gave as good as he got against Victor Ortiz in 2010, and stepped up to snag a junior welter crown against Khan, was now a past tense type.
Matthysse sent him down once in round two, and two more times in the third. It was a hit job, a nasty bit of business, and the critics didn't pull their punches on Peterson, who again goes for that IBF strap, now vacant, in DC. He was tossed to the back of the line, or maybe just a bit further back than his record deserved. But the fighter, who sports a 32-2-1 mark, isn't in a self pity mode. He isn't licking his wounds, and going in the other direction, and evincing a heavy anti-media bias stemming from a hurt ego. No, Peterson has been speaking and acting like a consummate pro, who well understands the business he's in, and what he must do to remain relevant. And that is dust himself off, train his tail off, and show Jean that he isn't the best 140 pounder in that DC ring, let alone the best pound for pound fighter in boxing, as he's been proclaiming.
"I can show you how I come back from a knockout better than I can tell you; you'll see Saturday night," said the man who fought to survive as a youth, with dad in prison and mom being incapacitated."You just have to forget it, it can happen to the best of us. Even basketball players shoot air ball free throws, sometimes that's just what happens. I didn't have a hard time dealing with it, just seemed like the media did."
Good point; we do tend sometimes to go overboard, don't we, dismiss an athlete for a single loss, reduce their entire careers and beings off of one night, one defeat. Peterson, though, has dealt with rougher stuff than a mere KO loss. This kid, at age 8, was looking out for his one-year-younger brother Anthony, after their dad went to jail on drugs charges, and their mom was overwhelmed caring for seven children. The boys bounced around foster care, they lived on the streets of Washington, D.C., slept in bus stations, curled up in abandoned cars. They dabbled in pick-pocketing, and picked up food money cutting coke for dealers. Yes, you come from that, I dare say you are cut from a tougher cloth than the average Joe.
"We train hard, we go into the fight and we are there to win, but of course there's a chance you can lose," Lamont continued. "That's what happened [with his fight against Lucas Matthysse], but you just have to pick yourself up and move on."
Jean (25-0, with 17 KOs), who was born in Haiti and lives in Canada, is 31, and his best win is up for debate. He beat Cleotis Pendarvis in May, to get this gig. He sometimes poses too much, throws one shot at a time, drops his hands at inopportune moments and loses his balance, leaving himself open for a sharp counter. His power isn't scary, but he knocked Cleotis off kilter, and then went for the kill with proper zeal, so Peterson will have to respect the zip.
So anyone thinking that Jean, who hasn't been in nearly as tough as Peterson, who can fight backing up or moving forward, has a bit of pop in both hands, places his punches well, owns an ability to get nasty and look to close a show, is a lock to win, well, I'd reconsider. Lamont has gotten through worst things in life than a KO loss, OK?
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Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?