It’s been nearly five months since Lamont Peterson beat Amir Khan in one of the more memorable boxing upsets in several decades, gaining a level of professional achievement hardly imaginable when he was wandering the streets of the District indigent and homeless.
A little more than two weeks from the rematch, Peterson conducted an open workout on Thursday afternoon during which he reflected on those trying times and how they continue to keep him grounded despite the spoils of becoming a world champion and hometown hero.
“I can’t say enough about that,” Peterson, 28, said after a sparring session and punching the heavy bag at the Headbangers Gym in Southeast. “It just helped shape me and mold me into a person who really isn’t going to let anything change me being me. I’m going to continue to be me whether my life if up or down. I can be in the worst place ever, but I’m still going to be me. I can be in the best place ever. I’m still going to be me.”
These days Peterson doesn’t have all that much time to enjoy his accomplishments. He’s instead nearing the final stages of exhaustive conditioning and technique sharpening in defense of his World Boxing Association super lightweight and International Boxing Federation junior welterweight belts.
Peterson (30-1-1, 15 knockouts) wrested those from Khan on Dec. 10 via a 12-round split decision at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the first major prize fight in the District in nearly two decades.
The outcome included Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) having two points deducted for pushing, and his side demanded a rematch almost immediately, claiming improprieties in officiating and scoring clouded the result and cost him his titles.
“I just won the biggest fight of my career. I should be celebrating and be happy, but I’ve got to hear this and hear that,” Peterson said. “I was a little upset at the time, but as a fighter I understand I can’t go in the ring angry.”
Khan’s Golden Boy Promotions team waged an aggressive campaign in the weeks following trying to secure a rematch, including Khan posting on Twitter to promote his case. Peterson initially considered several other options before determining another fight against Khan, 25, was in his best interests.
The rematch takes place on May 19 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, where oddsmakers have installed Peterson as a 3-1 underdog. The fight again will be shown live on HBO.
Peterson was a much more distant long shot in the first fight, when he went to the canvas in Round 1 but recovered by working Khan to the body in subsequent rounds. That tactic caught Khan off-guard and eventually wore down the British fighter late in the bout.
So it hardly was surprising to see Peterson devote much of his workout to getting inside and unleashing shots to the stomach and rib area while occasionally going high with left and right crosses.
“Anybody who’s ever watched me fight since I was 11, 12 years old knows I’m going to go to the body,” Peterson said. “Regardless of who it is, how short he is, how tall he is, I’m going to go to his body. It’s not something I planned for Khan. It’s what I do.”