Lamont Peterson was just starting to break a sweat in the boxing ring Monday afternoon when trainer Barry Hunter strode inside the ropes and briefly halted the sparring. This was a teaching moment for Hunter, whose hometown pupil is preparing to defend his International Boxing Federation junior welterweight belt in less than two weeks.
Hunter directed Peterson to work his opponent high, then duck under an overhand counter and strike at the body with a combination. Peterson took that instruction to heart, practicing the sequence over and again during an open media workout at the Bald Eagle recreation center in Southwest.
Peterson (31-2-1, 16 knockouts) is beginning to wind down training camp and the physical demands of such high-energy workouts, instead girding himself mentally for his bout against Canadian Dierry Jean on Jan. 25 at D.C. Armory. It will be Peterson’s first fight since he lost via devastating knockout to Lucas Matthysse on May 18 at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.
“I try to tell myself it’s all the same,” Peterson said of his thought process going into a fight after a loss. “It’s just boxing. I just love boxing. That’s my main thing to focus, just to go in there, have fun and win the fight.”
When Peterson last stepped into the ring, he was on his heels from the opening bell against the slugging Argentine whose one-punch knockout power was too much to overcome. Peterson went down once in the second round and twice in the third of the non-title bout after being on the canvas three times over his previous 33 fights.
Peterson had planned to try to outbox Matthysse rather than be drawn into a back-alley brawl, but that tactic lasted only for the opening round. Matthysse instead was able to get close to Peterson and land inside, effectively nullifying Peterson’s reach advantage and escalating the 141-pound catch weight bout into a punching exercise.
Matthysse delivered a short left hook with 1 minute 13 seconds left in Round 2 that sent Peterson to the mat smack in the center of the ring. Peterson rolled over, pushed himself up and took a standing eight count in a neutral corner, telling referee Steve Smoger, “I’m all right.”
Seconds after the fight resumed, Peterson was wobbly again as Matthysse unleashed a looping left hook that ended the proceedings with 46 seconds left in the round. Peterson stumbled backward into the ropes and fell before using his right hand to help himself off the mat, but by then the bell had rung after Smoger raised his left arm and shook his head to prevent Peterson from absorbing further damage.
Peterson said he required roughly 24 hours to put that loss in his rear-view mirror and await word regarding his next opponent.
A native of Haiti, Jean (25-0, 17 knockouts), 31, has won his last three fights by knockout, including a May 10 bout against Cleotis Pendarvis. Only one of those fights lasted beyond four rounds.
“I think too often we get caught up and keep going back and remembering the loss and worrying about the loss,” Hunter said. “The loss, it’s over, and now you’ve got to look toward the next day, so that’s the type of guy [Peterson] is. We don’t hold on to stuff like that for very long.”