In Session: Amir Khan-Lamont Peterson Preview

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Saturday night at the Convention Center in Washington D.C., Lamont Peterson will face Amir Khan for the IBF and WBA light welterweight titles. In a rare instance where home field advantage resides with the lesser name, Peterson, a D.C. native, will try to electrify his fans by upsetting the heavily-favored British star.

Peterson, 29-1-1, has shown himself to be a credible contender. Using crafty inside work supplemented by a sharp body attack, he fought Victor Ortiz to a draw last December. An artiste in shoulder-to-shoulder combat, he showcases uppercuts to the sternum and left hooks to the liver while remaining slippery enough to avoid the bulk of the return. It’s the type of inside proficiency that made Timothy Bradley –an accomplished body puncher himself–revert to using his feet through two-thirds of his win over Peterson two years ago.

But Bradley’s versatility exposed some of Peterson’s vulnerabilities. While Peterson applied enough pressure to make Bradley uncomfortable, he didn’t cut the ring off well enough to definitively bag rounds. He also showed a tendency to fall into lulls for minutes at a time. A pressure fighter doesn’t have to be a windmill for 180 seconds of every round, but a jab disrupts a moving target while filling in the gaps between concerted attacks, and Peterson lacks a consistent one. His July knockout victory over Victor Cayo, while emphatic, highlighted these shortcomings.

Khan, 26-1, armed with swift feet, fluid hands, and a problematic reach, has the weapons to take advantage of the 27-year-old’s weaknesses. Peterson isn’t a natural counterpuncher, often preferring to move forward behind a guard and wait for the incoming fire to subside before launching an attack. It’s easy to imagine Khan reenacting the flurry-move-flurry dance he unveiled for Andriy Kotelnik in 2009 and two-step his way to a comfortable decision.

Still, Khan doesn’t enjoy pressure, and Peterson brings it in spades when motivated to do so. Even while only dropping a combined two rounds on the judges scorecards, Khan had shaky moments against light-hitting Kotelnik. And during a gutsy victory over Marcos Maidana a year ago, he had to hold on by the skin of his teeth after an overhand right left him knock kneed for three rounds. He isn’t Nicolino Locche when his back hits the ropes either, preferring to keep a stationary guard with elbows high, leaving an enticing target for a body punching specialist like Peterson. If a thrashing to the ribs compromises the fleet-footed Brit’s legs, he might have to navigate the same deep waters he wallowed through against Maidana. Undoubtedly, he’s shown perseverance inside the ring since his 2008 knockout loss to Breidis Prescott, but durability remains something of a question mark when facing tenacious resistance.

Both men have shown enough toughness to where a stoppage either way isn’t the likeliest conclusion, but both are capable of hurting each other. Down once against Bradley and twice against Victor Ortiz, questions of durability loom over Peterson as well, and Khan has stinging power to go along with busy hands. Walking him down is an arduous process that doesn’t come without its risks.

Peterson, while missing the glorified power, holstered speed, and New York hype, should provide far stiffer opposition than milquetoast Zab Judah did in July. But he’ll need to raise his game a few notches higher than it’s ever been–by cutting off the ring better while offering a consistent jab and more sustained punch output–to upset Khan. If trainer Barry Hunter is begging his pupil to let his hands go between rounds 6 and 7, there’s likely a hole dug too deep. Enough urgency to win a few of the early rounds is crucial to supplement his draining attack to the body.

Ultimately, Khan’s hands, and especially his feet, are probably too fast. Lamont Peterson is a different test though, and for his first hometown fight in over four years, he’ll be determined to catch lightning in a bottle.

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Topics: AMIR KHAN, JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHTS, LAMONT PETERSON, VICTOR ORTIZ

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  • Andrew Fruman

    Nice preview, Michael.

    Peterson’s typical all too measured approach won’t get it done – and I agree, if he doesn’t get busy early, we’re likely to see a fight that looks very similar to Khan-Kotelnik.

    But…

    You mentioned how Peterson needs to raise his game to win – and I have a feeling we’re going to see that from him. Normally I wouldn’t take much notice when a fighter promises an increased tempo – but the circumstances here, fighting in front of a vocal home-town venue, could lend themselves to providing the kind adrenalin boost he needs to come out of his shell. And if he can pick up the intensity a little, and go hard to the body – and he’s a strong body puncher – an upset could be in the cards. At the very least, I think he’s going to make it real close and push Khan hard down the stretch.

  • Andrew Fruman

    Nice preview, Michael.

    Peterson’s typical all too measured approach won’t get it done – and I agree, if he doesn’t get busy early, we’re likely to see a fight that looks very similar to Khan-Kotelnik.

    But…

    You mentioned how Peterson needs to raise his game to win – and I have a feeling we’re going to see that from him. Normally I wouldn’t take much notice when a fighter promises an increased tempo – but the circumstances here, fighting in front of a vocal home-town venue, could lend themselves to providing the kind adrenalin boost he needs to come out of his shell. And if he can pick up the intensity a little, and go hard to the body – and he’s a strong body puncher – an upset could be in the cards. At the very least, I think he’s going to make it real close and push Khan hard down the stretch.

  • thenonpareil

    Hello! I think Peterson is a competent fighter, but not much more than that. He looked awful against Ortiz–who, in turn, looked like he was fighting in an iron corset–and doesn’t seem to have the get-up-and-go necessary to catch up to Khan. Ultimately, I don’t think Peterson has the power to affect Khan, who’ll probably move, jab and cross enough to keep Peterson honest. If, as Andrew points out, Peterson does raise his game, then maybe we’ll have some fun and the fight will justify its coverage/hype, which is absurd.

    I don’t know if HBO is going to air Mitchell-Ibragimov, but I just have to point out that Ibragimov was in one the most putrid fights I’ve ever seen–against Calvin Brock a few years ago. Alas, I’ll never be able to forget that stinker.

  • thenonpareil

    Hello! I think Peterson is a competent fighter, but not much more than that. He looked awful against Ortiz–who, in turn, looked like he was fighting in an iron corset–and doesn’t seem to have the get-up-and-go necessary to catch up to Khan. Ultimately, I don’t think Peterson has the power to affect Khan, who’ll probably move, jab and cross enough to keep Peterson honest. If, as Andrew points out, Peterson does raise his game, then maybe we’ll have some fun and the fight will justify its coverage/hype, which is absurd.

    I don’t know if HBO is going to air Mitchell-Ibragimov, but I just have to point out that Ibragimov was in one the most putrid fights I’ve ever seen–against Calvin Brock a few years ago. Alas, I’ll never be able to forget that stinker.

  • Michael Nelson

    @Andrew Fruman Hey Andrew,

    I’ll be consulting you for now on before I write a preview… or bet on a fight. You hit the nail on the head. Peterson raised his game, and while the point deductions were questionable, any time body punching wins over flurries into a guard, I’m a satisfied man.

    Great call man.

  • Michael Nelson

    @thenonpareil CA!

    I can’t say I watched Mitchell-Ibragimov. But I hear we have the next great heavyweight!

    I liked Peterson’s body punching over Khan’s flurries, but I admit that on neutral ground the decision might have been different, since judges love to see glove-to-glove contact. The Khan train likely chugs along after the rematch. For now, I’ll bask in the rare underdog victory.

  • Andrew Fruman

    Ha, thanks, though right up until the opening bell, I was second guessing myself. I think there’s something to fighting in front of a vocal hometown crowd. Just like other sports, the crowd can give a fighter a lift, and with a guy like Peterson, he probably needs that emotional boost to shift into a higher gear.

    I thought the deductions were also questionable, as was the knockdown, but overall, Khan did go a little too far with the pushing down, holding, etc. A 1 point swing in favor of Peterson for an accumulation of infractions was probably fair.

    Great fight, and I hope we see a rematch.@Michael Nelson

  • Michael Nelson

    @Andrew Fruman Hey Andrew,

    I’ll be consulting you for now on before I write a preview… or bet on a fight. You hit the nail on the head. Peterson raised his game, and while the point deductions were questionable, any time body punching wins over flurries into a guard, I’m a satisfied man.

    Great call man.

  • thenonpareil

    @Andrew Fruman@Michael Nelson

    I just watched the fight again. I’ll be skewered for saying this, but I was happy when Cooper deducted the first point. Now, here’s where it gets strange: Khan did twice as much shoving after losing the point than he did before Cooper penalized him! The 9th, 11th, and 12th were absurd–Khan shoved Peterson repeatedly and Cooper warned him over and over again. So, who knows what to make of it? (Except, of course, all those folks who know EXACTLY what to make of everything. I am so damned tired of them.)

    Anyway, it was a good fight, and Peterson certainly banged away to the body with vigor. He took advantage of Khan’s major flaws and went to work. I don’t think he’s Aaron Pryor or anything, but he fought hard and took some mean shots from Khan, who looked discombobulated for long stretches, courtesy of Peterson’s pressure.

    Anyway, nice call, guys. I thought it would be a 116-112 type of fight in favor of Khan. That’s why I pay you the big bucks!

  • Michael Nelson

    @thenonpareil CA!

    I can’t say I watched Mitchell-Ibragimov. But I hear we have the next great heavyweight!

    I liked Peterson’s body punching over Khan’s flurries, but I admit that on neutral ground the decision might have been different, since judges love to see glove-to-glove contact. The Khan train likely chugs along after the rematch. For now, I’ll bask in the rare underdog victory.

  • thenonpareil

    @Michael Nelson

    Hi Michael,

    Ibragimov at least knew enough to get blasted out early and not bore me. Mitchell is neither here nor there, if you ask me, but I’m sure 95% of the boxing community got wet simultaneously.

    Khan would have eked it out if not for the final round deduction. And then people would have been crying that Peterson had been ROBBED. I think it was a close fight and I’m happy it was fun to watch. I thought Peterson would lose a lopsided decision, but he negated Khan’s advantages in speed with his go-for-broke style. Khan loses little here, I think, and a rematch ought to be another intriguing affair.

  • Andrew Fruman

    Ha, thanks, though right up until the opening bell, I was second guessing myself. I think there’s something to fighting in front of a vocal hometown crowd. Just like other sports, the crowd can give a fighter a lift, and with a guy like Peterson, he probably needs that emotional boost to shift into a higher gear.

    I thought the deductions were also questionable, as was the knockdown, but overall, Khan did go a little too far with the pushing down, holding, etc. A 1 point swing in favor of Peterson for an accumulation of infractions was probably fair.

    Great fight, and I hope we see a rematch.@Michael Nelson

  • thenonpareil

    @Andrew Fruman@Michael Nelson

    I just watched the fight again. I’ll be skewered for saying this, but I was happy when Cooper deducted the first point. Now, here’s where it gets strange: Khan did twice as much shoving after losing the point than he did before Cooper penalized him! The 9th, 11th, and 12th were absurd–Khan shoved Peterson repeatedly and Cooper warned him over and over again. So, who knows what to make of it? (Except, of course, all those folks who know EXACTLY what to make of everything. I am so damned tired of them.)

    Anyway, it was a good fight, and Peterson certainly banged away to the body with vigor. He took advantage of Khan’s major flaws and went to work. I don’t think he’s Aaron Pryor or anything, but he fought hard and took some mean shots from Khan, who looked discombobulated for long stretches, courtesy of Peterson’s pressure.

    Anyway, nice call, guys. I thought it would be a 116-112 type of fight in favor of Khan. That’s why I pay you the big bucks!

  • thenonpareil

    @Michael Nelson

    Hi Michael,

    Ibragimov at least knew enough to get blasted out early and not bore me. Mitchell is neither here nor there, if you ask me, but I’m sure 95% of the boxing community got wet simultaneously.

    Khan would have eked it out if not for the final round deduction. And then people would have been crying that Peterson had been ROBBED. I think it was a close fight and I’m happy it was fun to watch. I thought Peterson would lose a lopsided decision, but he negated Khan’s advantages in speed with his go-for-broke style. Khan loses little here, I think, and a rematch ought to be another intriguing affair.

  • dennis wise

    @thenonpareil@Andrew Fruman@Michael Nelson I agree. I have no problem at all with Khan losing two points. He did plenty to deserve them. But the timing of the second point deduction, right or wrong, just screamed ‘last round, here’s a chance to help the hometown fighter.’

  • dennis wise

    @thenonpareil@Andrew Fruman@Michael Nelson I agree. I have no problem at all with Khan losing two points. He did plenty to deserve them. But the timing of the second point deduction, right or wrong, just screamed ‘last round, here’s a chance to help the hometown fighter.’

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