When District boxer Lamont Peterson last stepped into the ring, the end came suddenly and violently. Amid a flurry of devastating combinations from Lucas Matthysse, the International Boxing Federation junior welterweight champion crumpled to the canvas three times.
The last of those knockdowns in Atlantic City came with 2 minutes 14 seconds left in Round 2. By then, referee Steve Smoger had seen enough, issuing a stoppage when it was abundantly clear that Peterson’s physical well-being could be in jeopardy had the non-title bout continued.
Eight months later, Peterson, 30, is on the comeback trail following the second loss of his career. The opponent is undefeated Canadian Dierry Jean, who is making a significant leap in quality of competition for the first title bout of his career.
The fight will take place Saturday night at the D.C. Armory, where Peterson no doubt will have ample support from family, friends and loyal supporters of the homegrown fighterwho went from homeless to world champion.
“Personally for me, no,” Peterson said when asked if he feels he needs to validate himself as an elite boxer after such a decisive defeat. “But at the end of the day, it would help to win the fight and look spectacular doing so.”
Despite the loss to Matthysse, Peterson kept his 140-pound title because of a dispute between the sanctioning bodies before the fight. Matthysse received credit for a successful defense of his interim World Boxing Council belt, but Peterson’s IBF hardware was not on the line.
Peterson (31-2-1, 16 knockouts) won the IBF title by beating Amir Khan via split decision on Dec. 10, 2011, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the District. The 140-pound champion also took the World Boxing Association belt from Khan, but the sanctioning body later vacated the title when it was revealed Peterson had failed a pre-fight drug test prior to a scheduled rematch with Khan.
Since then, Peterson has had only one fight other than Matthysse. That bout took place at the D.C. Armory on Feb. 22, 2013, when Peterson scored a knockout of Kendall Holt to retain his IBF belt.
“I believe it’s a big advantage for many reasons,” Peterson said of fighting in his home town. “I know where everything is, and everything comes easy. I can train at my own gym at whatever time I want to train. When you go out of town, you’ve got to work on somebody else’s schedule because you’re at somebody else’s gym.”
In trying to remain in the conversation among the top fighters in the ultra-competitive junior welterweight division, Peterson has been sparring and working out at his Bald Eagle boxing annex in Southwest under the guidance of longtime trainer Barry Hunter, who helped Peterson and his younger brother Anthony escape the streets by encouraging them to take up boxing.
The sport has brought Lamont Peterson some financial security, but another loss would further jeopardize an otherwise promising career. Peterson’s only other loss was two years ago by 12-round unanimous decision to Timothy Bradley, who went on to beat Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, among others, on his way to capturing and retaining the World Boxing Organization welterweight title.
In Jean (25-0), Peterson faces an opponent who is coming off the most significant victory of his career. The native of Haiti living in Montreal scored a fourth-round knockout of Cleotis Pendarvis on May 10 in a title eliminator.
The Peterson-Jean fight began coming together when Golden Boy Promotions won the purse bid in early November to stage the bout. Golden Boy promotes Peterson and won with a winning bid of $156,000. The only other bid came from Jean’s promoter.
Peterson is in line to earn $117,000 (75 percent of winning purse bid). Jean, meantime, will make $39,000 (25 percent).
“It’s a great opportunity for me because I think in his mind he’s not 100 percent okay,” Jean said of Peterson. “So it’s going to be a great opportunity for me to strike him again, for me to catch him again, to remind him the nightmare he took last time.”