But when ring announcer Michael Buffer hollered the words, “And . . . NEW SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD . . .” and Lamont Peterson smudged his joyful tears against the arms of Barry Hunter and his handlers — and Amir Khan shook his head in disgust after the sport’s umpteenth controversial decision — the night was just beginning for the combatants.
After the postfight news conference, they would bizarrely meet again — in the waiting area of an emergency room.
It was 2 a.m. Sunday outside the George Washington Hospital ER when Peterson’s publicist saw a black Escalade pull up behind his vehicle.
This being the District’s first major championship fight in nearly 20 years, not many medical professionals beyond the ring doctor were present at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center afterward. So Peterson’s people picked the closest facility to their hotel for a genuine postfight examination.
Unknowingly to the new champ, so did the man he took two belts from with a split-decision victory over 12 grueling rounds before an HBO audience.
“I just looked outside and saw all the gold and red from his team and said, ‘Ain’t that some [expletive],’ ” said Andre Johnson, the publicist for Peterson’s camp. “Everybody else in the emergency room just looked at ’em at first, like, ‘What happened to you two?’ ”
Nurses and security officers who had heard about or watched the fight scurried up to the cut and bruised men for autographs. They snapped photographs. Eventually, the two fighters, mutually respectful for almost the entire week leading up to the fight, took pictures with each other before they were treated and released about 5 a.m.
If they had put them in wheelchairs, heck, they would have been Rocky and Apollo at the beginning of “Rocky II.”
Yes, Peterson — the homeless child who dethroned the champion — told Khan he would give him a rematch afterward.
Again, we’re not making this up.
It is going on 5 p.m. Sunday. And as I sit here typing this in the press box of FedEx Field, where the most offensively exciting Washington Redskins game of the year has ended with Tom Brady winning a shootout with Rex Grossman, I can’t get that fight out of my head.
No one can change my mind on this one: The single greatest sports story in Washington this year unfolded past 11 p.m. Saturday night in downtown.
An 8-to-1 underdog, regarded as a very good move-and-stick fighter who competed well but never dazzled on the big stage, knew in the opening rounds he could not outbox a man whose hands moved at warp speed. So he morphed into a free-swinging brawler. His right eye nearly shut, trailing early on the scorecards, Peterson stalked Khan, punishing the champion against the ropes.