Three days after Lamont Peterson spent a rugged 12 rounds in the boxing ring matching favored Amir Khan blow for blow, the new unified super lightweight champion was ready to fight again in short time. Trainer Barry Hunter, though, is keeping his star pupil away from the gym for at least a couple weeks before Peterson and his handlers begin considering the District native’s next opponent in a fight, perhaps in the spring.
In the postfight news conference following his triumph by split decision on Saturday night at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Peterson spoke of a rematch with Khan, who had volunteered to come to the nation’s capital in defense of his WBA and IBF titles.
Now the caretaker of those belts, Peterson has the leverage to dictate specifics should there be a second fight between the two, who in 60 combined bouts have lost just three times.
“Yes on a rematch with Khan,” Peterson said Tuesday. “Of course it’s something that me, Barry and the team have to sit down and talk about, and we all have to agree on. Everything has to be right because I’m the champion now, and pretty much a lot of doors are going to be open for me. So I’ll keep my options open and see what’s out there.”
Based on fan reaction during the bout and after the result was announced, a rematch in the District would be a major draw. The event nearly sold out, and the thousands of vocal Peterson supporters conveyed the enthusiastic atmosphere promoters had hoped for when they brought the match to Washington 18 years after the last championship fight of this magnitude took place in the city.
The win included some controversy when Virginia-based referee Joe Cooper twice deducted a point from Khan for pushing. The first deduction came in the seventh round and the last in the 12th, and those points were decisive in a bout that came down to the slightest margin.
Khan, meantime, has been clamoring for Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs) to issue a rematch, and while initially the United Kingdom was in play, the site at this point remains unclear. Published reports have Las Vegas as a front-runner.
“It doesn’t matter [the location] when we decide to fight each other,” Peterson said. “It wouldn’t matter where we fight because like I always say, I only can control what goes on in the ring. All the other things I can’t control, so I’m going to go out and give my best performance. That’s all I care about.”
There are potentially significant drawbacks to a fight in England, starting with the prize money. A bout on American soil in all likelihood would be more lucrative for Peterson because HBO would pay more if the fight were stateside. HBO’s license fee provides most of the payout, which on Saturday was $650,000 for Peterson, the most in his career. Khan received $1.1 million.
A rematch with Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) makes sense, but so would a second fight against Timothy Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs). By unanimous decision, the WBO junior welterweight champion dealt Peterson the only loss of his career nearly two years to the day Peterson dethroned Khan.
“As it stands now, we’re going to take a step back and let [Peterson] enjoy his accomplishments last week and then go from there,” Hunter said. “Just look at every offer and decide which one is the best for us and go with that.”