Many pundits believe that Lamont Peterson’s smooth, upright boxing style, which is predicated on his steady jab and sharp right hand, is the perfect elixir to offset the aggression of WBO junior welterweight titlist, Tim Bradley. The two square off at the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage as the main event on “Showtime Championship Boxing” (Saturday, 9 pm, ET/PT).
But Peterson and his trainer, Barry Hunter, feel they can defeat “Desert Storm” from both the inside and outside.
"The difference with Lamont, as far as Timothy Bradley is concerned, we know he likes to pressure sometimes and also I know him from the amateurs. I’ve seen at times when he boxes. He can box beautifully also. Lamont can match what Timmy can do, but I don’t think Timmy can match whatever Lamont can do in the ring," is how Hunter sees it. "I think that’s going to be the difference in the fight. Because sure, he can box and, for the most part, a lot of people have seen Lamont box. He prefers to box toe-to-toe. He’s a very, very good in-fighter."
Peterson, who is Bradley’s mandatory challenger, told Maxboxing that everything would start with his jab. "Every time you have that much of a height advantage over somebody, you want to establish your jab and use distance. But if it becomes an in-fight, I will invite the inside fight and I’ll work on the inside just as well as I can box."
Bradley is a volume puncher who likes to flurry. He still has a bit of an amateur style.
"At some points, yeah," Peterson agreed." At some points, he has a good professional pace. But at the same time, he does throw a lot of amateurish punches. So I’m not going to just try to out-punch him if I don’t have to. If I sit down on my punches and have the showier punches, than that will overcome that, the number of punches that he’ll throw.’
In between all of Bradley’s activity, Peterson’s goal is to be precise.
"Timing is key," he explains. "A lot of times [that] he’s throwing his punches, he’s open for a slight second. So if I can time him during those punches, that will be good for me."
At 27-0, Peterson is a seasoned young contender. From 2004 to 2007, he and his brother, lightweight contender, Anthony, were among the busiest boxers in the world. They became ESPN2 mainstays as they built up their records under the Prize Fight promotional banner.
"We took the longer road, where you have some fighters where Lamont had gotten rated higher than them earlier," said Hunter, who also manages the duo. "But on the flip side of that, had that fight came up at that time, sure we would’ve took it. But for whatever reason, our road was a little bit longer; it stretched out a little longer. So I just think now, it’s the perfect time and I think it’s his time. Even though we would’ve liked to have gotten there sooner. Nevertheless, we’re here now and we’re going to take advantage of it."
Since latching on with Top Rank, their activity has slowed as the magnitude of their fights increased. Hunter says of the brothers, "Lamont and Anthony, the only time they are unhappy is when they can’t fight. They are that throwback kind of fighter, back in the day…Ray Robinson days, where, hell, you might fight twice in a week or something like that. If they could fight two or three times a week, they would be more than happy to do so. But nevertheless, reality says that now you got these fighters that want to pick and choose who they fight, when they fight, what arena they fight them at. And to me, that’s spoiling boxing more than it’s helping boxing.
"Because you have all kinds of attractive match-ups out there but because of the fact that these fights are stretched out like that and maybe when a fight does take place, both fighters are past their time or one is past their time. I don’t think it’s too good for the sport,” continues Hunter.
So far, the most notable work in the ring that Peterson has engaged in was some summertime sparring in Las Vegas with one Floyd Mayweather; who at the time was prepping for his return against Juan Manuel Marquez.
"It was good sparring and I learned some things in there," said Peterson, of those rounds with “Money” that created a bit of buzz on the ’net. "And I definitely took some things in there. But I just like to look at it as just sparring, y’know? Mayweather’s one of the top fighters out there and I’m trying to get to where he’s at. So I got to learn a few things and got some good work in there. I wish I could’ve got more work for the time I was there."
Contrary to popular belief, Peterson was not asked to leave Mayweather’s gym.
"Nah, we weren’t really in the camp. I was just in Vegas, my brother was fighting in Vegas and we wanted to do some sparring and they said we could come over and spar. So we just sparred for the days that we went there and went home."
Sparring stories are a lot like fish stories. Ask ten witnesses to recall a particular session and you’re bound to get ten completely different stories of what took place. It all depends on your perspective and what you want to see.
When asked how he saw the go-around with Mayweather, Hunter says, "Well, I would say it like this, because I’ve been asked this question so many times after the sparring match was over with it, which by the way, was one of the best sparring matches I’ve ever seen in my life and career; to be honest with you. There was a lot of skill being displayed. It was raw. It was one of them things that if HBO, Showtime or any network would’ve put it on, the ratings would’ve just shot through the ceiling. Part of the story was true. Some of it was embellished."
What upset the normally calm and collected Hunter is when he was informed of some anonymous reports of Peterson getting handled easily.
"I was at home and my wife was surfing the Internet about Lamont, when that particular story came out. Now, when we left the gym, out of respect for Floyd, of course we weren’t going to talk about it. We might talk about it amongst ourselves but we weren’t going to bring it out into the public because we just looked at it as sparring. This is what we do," said Hunter." But the day I got word of it, my wife saw it on the Internet and the way it was put down on the Internet, some mystery coach of one of the sparring partners had supposedly been there. He said, so to speak, that Floyd pretty much put it on Lamont; which wasn’t the case at all."
In Hunter’s eyes, "First, it was pretty even. Second day, Lamont came out with the better day, but overall, take nothing away from Floyd. He is what they say on TV. He’s a very, very skilled athlete, very good fighter. I would say that Lamont did some things and he took some things. But overall, it was one of the best sparring matches that I ever been with during my life. It was off the chain, actually."
When asked if he had perhaps surprised Mayweather with his skill level, Peterson answered," I mean, I think I’ll surprise anyone with my skill level because it’s the type of skill level, when you get in there, that’s when you really see [it]. Because a lot of times it looks like I’m doing stuff with ease, it looks like I’m laid back or whatever. But I think people really realize how good I am and how skilled I am, once I step in the ring."
For now his focus is on Bradley, a fight he believes will go through several stages and eventually heat up late.
"It can go different ways in this fight. It can be a tactical fight but I think, eventually, at the end it will be a competitive fight because I know Timothy. I’ve known him for a long time. He’s not just going to let me win rounds and then [say], ‘OK, Lamont’s better than me.’ He’s going to try to switch game plans and fight hard. And you best believe that somehow or whatever or some way that [if] I’m losing rounds early, I’m not going to let him get away with just winning rounds. I’m going to fight hard.”
Peterson continues, "So either way, both of us are competitors. So whoever gets the disadvantage in the fight, then that person will pick it up and it will become a war."
DEAD OR ALIVE?
I’ve been told by two sources that Dallas has still not been completely ruled out as the host city for Pacquiao-Mayweather on March 13th. I’m not getting my hopes up, but it’s clear that while Golden Boy Promotions wants to keep this fight at the MGM Grand and protect their relationship with the MGM-Mirage, Top Rank is much more receptive to at least listening to the pitch of Jerry Jones. Most importantly, the Cowboys aren’t going away without a fight. They are still very interested in hosting this event.
The overwhelming majority of readers that responded to my last article on this issue favor Cowboy Stadium as the venue. The bottom line is that they would actually like to have a legitimate opportunity to buy tickets and attend this historic fight. But a few readers raised concerns about going to Texas and how going there is somehow rewarding this state for some dubious decisions (most recently, the scoring of the first Juan Diaz-Paulie Malignaggi fight back in August).
Folks, let’s be honest here, it’s not like Las Vegas doesn’t have a history of questionable calls with the same questionable judges throughout the years, themselves. And if you were to exclude certain regions from landing big events because of disputed decisions, then pretty soon, we’d have to resort to have our biggest fights on Mars and Saturn (who by the way, have not expressed any interest in Pacquiao-Mayweather, as of yet).
There is some talk of matching WBC junior flyweight titlist, Rodel Mayol versus Giovanni Segura; who has the WBA title, in the spring of 2010...A match-up between WBC super lightweight titlist, Devon Alexander and WBA interim belt-holder Marcos Maidana is being seriously discussed for March 6th for HBO’s “Boxing After Dark.” There’s a very good chance it could land at the Treasure Island in Las Vegas...As for Cory Spinks, nothing really. A source tells me, "He’s fat."...On January 16th in Las Vegas, Top Rank will have a show featuring welterweight contender Joshua Clottey and prospect Miguel Garcia...A featherweight bout between Bernabe Concepcion and Mario Santiago has been officially added to the February 13th, “Pinoy Power” card. I like this fight...I think Notre Dame made an outstanding hire in Brian Kelly; who has won big everywhere he has been...So wait, Tennessee uses pretty girls to lure football recruits?!?! Wait, that goes on?!?! You don’t say…This week’s edition of “The Main Event” features Peterson and Paulie Malignaggi (who rematches Juan Diaz on HBO this Saturday in Chicago)...Questions or comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org...Twitter.com/stevemaxboxing....