As negotiations for an anticipated rematch between Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan continued, representatives for both sides convened at the John A. Wilson Building in the District on Friday morning for a hearing to examine alleged improprieties during and after the Dec. 10 title fight at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange (D-At Large) chaired the hearing as part of the Committee on Small and Local Business Development, which has jurisdiction over the D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission. The commission came under fire from Golden Boy Promotions, which handles Khan’s publicity, for what they charge were judging and officiating irregularities following the 12-round split decision that awarded the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation junior welterweight belts to Peterson, a native of the District.
Orange said during his opening statements he organized the hearing to ensure the integrity of the nation’s capital as a viable site for major championship boxing in the wake of those claims. He also cited as further grounds for the hearing Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer’s comments indicating Golden Boy would have no alternative but to file suit against the D.C. Boxing Commission if no action was taken in addressing their grievances.
Golden Boy had submitted formal appeals to the WBA and IBF requesting the decision be overturned or that at minimum an immediate rematch be granted. While the WBA has mandated a rematch, Golden Boy subsequently withdrew its appeal to the IBF, clearing the way for Peterson to receive that belt.
Orange, though, presented into the proceedings documentation from the WBA that upheld the judging and refereeing as equitable. The WBA, according to its official response, called the work of two judges “very good,” the conduct of another “good” and Joe Cooper’s refereeing “regular.”
Members of the D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission, including chairman Scottie Irving, as well as Events DC President and CEO Gregory O’Dell testified, as did officials from the IBF and Peterson, his younger brother Anthony, trainer Barry Hunter and Team Peterson communications director Andre Johnson.
“I’ve been judging and refereeing fights for 30 years, and I have an opinion on who won, but that’s not my job,” said IBF board member Paul Artisst, who was the sanctioning body’s supervisor the night of the fight. “I concur with the decision that was made.”
Golden Boy COO David Itskowitch and Golden Boy attorney Arnold Joseph also testified, and the exchange became somewhat heated between them and Orange on several occasions. Some of the many issues on which the sides disagreed included whether Itskowitch was within his rights to view the scorecards in person following the fight and the influence Mustafa Ameen may have had on the judging.
During a post-fight conference call outlining Golden Boy’s position, Schaefer referred to Ameen at the time as a “mystery man” who may have intentionally affected the outcome of the fight in Peterson’s favor. Khan also posted pictures on Twitter of Ameen at ringside, alleging he interfered with the scoring of WBA supervisor Michael Welsh.
“But after watching it on tape, you see [Ameen] around the same corner as Lamont Peterson’s team, cheering with them and celebrating,” Khan wrote on his Twitter account. “That’s the reason I want to know who this person was and why was he sat with the judges? Why was he passing papers around? Why was he handling things?”
Peterson’s camp later issued a statement indicating Ameen was in no way affiliated with either Lamont or Anthony Peterson or Hunter.
IBF President Daryl Peoples, who testified on Friday, said he requested a credential for Ameen as a courtesy because Ameen was a volunteer for the sanctioning body. Ameen was not at the fight in an official capacity nor is he a salaried employee of the IBF, Peoples testified.
“If it ends today and nothing is done, then yes it was a waste of time,” Itskowitch said following the hearing. “But maybe some of what we said in terms of transparency and in terms of improving what the commission here does versus what we experience in other jurisdictions, if improvements are made, then maybe it’s not a waste of time.”