NEW YORK — For the first time in about three years Saturday night I went to the fights, which for some warped, medieval reason in my neural cortex I still love.
The primary reason was to see the District’s own Lamont Peterson and his younger brother Anthony fight in person for the first time.
Lamont, who has been a world champion at 140 pounds for almost three years, and Anthony, who has been a lightweight contender much longer, both won by stoppage on another lopsided, lions-devouring-the-lambs Showtime card.
Danny Garcia was the headliner at the barely half-filled Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He fought poor Rod Salka, who basically got beat up for money, flattened inside of two rounds in a fight his people had no business taking other than to get paid.
Of course, that’s what boxing remains — a vehicle for financial gain for those willing to swap punches and brain cells for checks.
At its best, when fighters like the Peterson brothers go from homelessness as kids in Northwest D.C. to bona fide world champions, contenders and good citizens of the planet, it’s still the rawest, most incredible metaphor for resolve in sports.
At its worst it’s a crowd jeering when the referee stopped Lamont’s fight in the 10th round, a fight that was over many rounds earlier.
Lamont cleaned this guy’s clock for eight rounds, just destroying this outclassed soul from New York named Edgar Santana. Peterson’s infighting was something to behold, just short-range, powerful punches that carved up the midsection of a svelte and muscular Santana. Lamont looked like a mini-Holyfield, turning his opponent skillfully with his head and shoulder before teeing off.
He is truly a technician of the sweet science, bobbing and weaving, finding angles and then delivering uppercuts and hooks with precision.
It was never any question who was going to win from about the third round on. Santana didn’t have the power to hurt Lamont or the skill to box and get back in the fight on points. All he had was a chin and a desire not to end the fight on his back.
Like the main event, this was a mismatch. Still, the crowd booed the stoppage. These are the same kind of frothing people who go to see the matador stick the bull and die.
Afterward, everybody wanted to know when Garcia-Peterson was going to happen and where, so the 140-pound titles in the three main sanctioning bodies could be unified — which is what Saturday night’s fight should have done.
“We’ll fight in Philly but not in Washington, D.C.,” said Angel Garcia, Danny’s trainer and father. “I’m not a politician, and I already pay a lot of taxes.”
That’s too bad because the city’s most hospitable venue for a big-money fight on F Street has not hosted a card since Mike Tyson in 2005, and the Peterson brothers would be a natural. Contrary to “Rocky,” the fighting city of Philadelphia doesn’t really come out and support boxing anymore, so that’s probably not going to happen.
Everyone was told it was up to Al Haymon, a promoter/adviser/manager to Garcia’s and Peterson’s camps among numerous others. Haymon wasn’t at the fight. He apparently doesn’t do interviews and is rarely seen, which is really great for a crumbling sport competing for the MMA entertainment dollar while its young stars are all dwarfed by Floyd Mayweather.
Memo to Al: If you don’t put together Lamont Peterson-Danny Garcia before the end of the year, if you don’t get Anthony Peterson a title shot soon, you will be one of the primary reasons boxing in Washington will continue to suffer from neglect and interest outside of the Headbangers gym.
Anthony is one of the most accomplished 135-pound fighters in the world, a stick-and-move artist who hits like Ambien. His right hand is so lethal it should come with a child-proof cap. Just 12 of his 34 fights have gone the distance, and he has knocked out 14 of his opponents inside the first four rounds.
It took just 2 minutes 41 seconds and one good two-piece for Peterson to take out Edgar Riovalle, who with a 37-19 record was also basically brought in to be beaten.
Forget their personal stories of redemption; the Petersons deserve to headline their own Showtime card based on their years of work and sterling records.
It’s an ongoing struggle to support the deeply flawed people on our favorite teams, a constant battle to love the song even though we have serious reservations about the singer. But criminal behavior has long been a part of so many boxing back stories, and the ones who use the manly art of self-defense to turn their lives around are worth celebrating.
But I can’t reconcile buying the pay-per-view to see the most famous fighter in the sport anymore because my conscience won’t let me. Mayweather has hit multiple women. He has been to jail for domestic assault. No matter how many men he knocks out, he still loses on all cards.
So you find someone else to follow. I have found Lamont and Anthony. I want to see their careers through, see them get the opportunity that is now overdue.
If people like Al Haymon and Showtime boxing executives know what’s good for the sport, they can do their little bit to make sure it keeps old fight fans like me interested. Make Danny Garcia-Lamont Peterson happen. Now. And make sure Anthony fights a guy with a belt on the same card. You’ll be glad you did.
For more by Mike Wise, visit washingtonpost.com/wise.