District boxer Lamont Peterson had completed his workout Thursday afternoon when another one of the world’s top pound-for-pound fighters leaned over to ask him a question.
Adrien Broner also had been sparring at Bald Eagle gym in Southwest Washington, and the World Boxing Council’s lightweight champion with the outsize personality wanted to know if Peterson was afraid of the dark.
“Because you’re fighting the bogeyman, and he only comes out at night,” Broner said, referring to Peterson’s next opponent, Lucas Matthysse. “You’re fighting under the lights, right?”
Peterson (31-1-1, 16 knockouts) simply chuckled before nodding. If the International Boxing Federation junior welterweight champion is having any reservations about his May 18 clash with one of the most lethal punchers in the sport, he was conceding nothing.
That understated and composed demeanor has been one of Peterson’s most trusted allies in the ring regardless of opponent, and this time his preparation is no different even though Matthysse (33-2, 31 KOs) has been on a tear over his past five bouts. The powerful Argentine has won each of those fights via knockout or referee technical decision.
The bout — set for Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, a new venue for both fighters — will be at a catch weight of 141 pounds, meaning no titles are at stake. Matthysse is the WBC interim super lightweight champion.
“If I focus on defense, it’s really hard to hit me,” Peterson said following a workout that included hitting the heavy bag, a short session with the speed bag and a cool-down on the exercise bicycle with a breathing apparatus over his mouth. “At times I’ll fight him. If I feel like I’m getting hit a little bit or need to think about defense, then I’ll go defense, and I’m pretty sure he will not hit me.”
Peterson absorbed early punishment in his last fight before unloading on American slugger Kendall Holt, underscoring his ability to take a punch and emerge with few ill effects. In the fourth round of that February bout, Peterson unleashed a barrage on Holt and proceeded to drop him twice on his way to an eighth-round TKO.
Holt connected in the first round with a clean right to the jaw, but the blow hardly fazed Peterson despite a 14-month layoff. Peterson was fighting for the first time since upsetting Amir Khan at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Dec. 10, 2011. He subsequently failed a drug test before their scheduled rematch.
“Lamont has faced all types of fighters,” trainer Barry Hunter said. “We approach this fight no different than fights in the past.”
Hunter referenced his pupil’s bout five years ago against Antonio Mesquita. The hard-punching Brazilian entered that fight 34-0 with 26 knockouts, but Peterson collected a unanimous 10-round decision by avoiding his opponent’s power punches while scoring consistently.
Matthysse’s power, meantime, is well documented. His last fight, in January, ended with a first-round knockout courtesy of a straight right counterpunch that sent Mike Dallas Jr. to the canvas.