D.C.'s Lamont Peterson set to defend IBF title


Lamont Peterson, shown here in 2012, will be fighting in New York for the first time in his career next weekend. (Jahi Chikwendiu/Washington Post)

Just call it Lamont Peterson’s version of a playoff beard. The bushy swath of facial hair is the District fighter's homage to dedication and focus in preparation for his Aug. 9 bout against Edgar Santana at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

With the International Boxing Federation junior welterweight champion devoting 12 hours a day to training both physically and mentally, a visit to the barber shop for a proper grooming isn’t anywhere near the top of his to-do list. Peterson instead spends virtually all of his waking hours at Bald Eagle gym in Southwest, where he conducted an open workout for the media Thursday afternoon.

“There’s no time for haircuts,” said Peterson, 30. “I’m not going to no bars, clubs, no nothing. I get here at 9 o’clock, and sometimes I don’t leave until 11 at night. I’m not saying I’m working out the whole time, but this is where I want to be. This is where I spend my time, and after that, it’s to the hotel [in New York] and back here again” after the fight.

Staying active in the gym is what keeps Peterson sharp despite a recent history of long layoffs between bouts. In this instance, Peterson (36-2-1, 16 knockouts) will be fighting for the first time since Jan. 25 when he scored a unanimous 12-round decision over then-undefeated Dierry Jean at D.C. Armory to retain his IBF belt.

The Jean fight was Peterson’s first in eight months and came after just the second loss of his career. Argentinian slugger Lucas Matthysse sent Peterson to the mat once in the second round and twice in the third before referee Steve Smoger stopped the proceedings.

Peterson’s other loss came against Timothy Bradley in Dec. 2009. Peterson was knocked down for the first time in his career but rebounded with a seventh-round technical knockout of Damian Fuller four months later. Three years after beating Peterson, Bradley scored a controversial split decision over Manny Pacquiao to win the World Boxing Organization welterweight title.

“Lamont’s pretty good right now,” trainer Barry Hunter said of his top pupil’s temperament as he watched Peterson go through training intervals. “We’re coming down the stretch, and about this time, he gets a little cranky every once in a while. As far as where he is physically, very, very good.”

Peterson began his workout with footwork drills in the ring, bouncing on the balls of his feet and maneuvering around small orange cones scattered along the canvas. Following that session, Peterson went through some light sparring and finished his afternoon on the speed bag.

He also allowed time to talk with his younger brother Anthony (33-1, 21 KOs), who is fighting on the same card as Lamont against an opponent to be determined. The Petersons are part of a card in which the main event features unified light welterweight champion Danny Garcia fighting Rod Salka.

Also on the undercard is 21-year-old Temple Hills super middleweight D’Mitrius Ballard (5-0), whose opponent has not been determined.

“Training camp is going well,” said Peterson, who will be fighting in New York for the first time. “If I say how I feel, you all probably will say I’m arrogant, but I’m feeling really good right now. You know me, I’m not one who’s going to talk too much about it, but I’m feeling really great. I feel confident. I’m feeling like there’s not anything else I can do in this training camp. I’m ready to go. I’m in shape. I’m just waiting, counting the days."

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering multiple beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He also covers Fantasy Football.

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