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Khan vs. Peterson: Great Fight, Poor Officiating

Pictured: Lamont Peterson rips Amir Khan to the body.

Last Saturday night, Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson gave the boxing community a gift it will seldom forget.

Sadly, that gift, much like an Indiana Jones marathon, was possessed of a conclusion that well and truly shat all over the greatness that preceded it.

In this age of protected champions and risk-reward matchmaking, it’s rare to see 2 young fighters square off in their physical prime, particularly when one of them essentially holds all the cards at the negotiating table I.E. Khan.

Regardless of whether it was due to arrogance on the part of Golden Boy, or simply due to the dearth of headline worthy talent at Jr. Welterweight willing to step into ring with “King” Khan, at the end of the day Khan-Peterson turned out to be tremendous fight in spite of the controversy that would surround it’s questionable officiating.

In particular, the fight served to rekindle my appreciation for Peterson, as despite being impressed by his early bouts, by this point I’d just about written him off as a credible world champion caliber fighter.

Indeed, sometimes it feels good to be wrong.

The fight started out at a fast clip, with Khan circling and shooting out flashy combinations at distance while Peterson struggled to close the distance.

Despite both fighters being possessed of natural quickness of both feet and hands, it was clear from the start that Khan’s lengthy strides and wild punching was going give him a clear edge in a straight up boxing match.

Ducking awkwardly at times, and rarely going on the offensive in the first several minutes of the fight, Peterson looked to be stymied by Khan’s physical advantages, advantages that typically belong to Peterson himself in most of his fights.

Despite this however, Peterson did well to avoid or block most of Khan’s flurries, pressuring him all the while.

Fortunately, despite suffering a slip and a balance related knockdown in the first round, Peterson proceeded undaunted into the fight, adopting a brawling fight plan that has heretofore been unseen in career up until now.

Pictured: Amir Khan standing over the toppling, but still game Lamont Peterson.

Typically thought of as a boxer-puncher with an emphasis on “boxer,” Lamont Peterson entered into the 3rd and 4th rounds of his fight Khan a full-on rough and tumble brawler.

Employing his own formidable footwork and speed as a launchpad for his offense, Peterson chased Khan about the ring as few others have done before.

In the past, Khan’s one glaring weakness was always his questionable chin.

Floored by Breidis Prescott in embarrassing fashion, and hurt by several other fighters earlier in his career, Khan’s chin has always cast a shadow over his potential worth as a elite level fighter, however in recent years, after having moved up in weight to Jr. Welterweight and begun training under Freddie Roach, his chin has become less of an issue.

Last year however, against the brick-fisted plodder Marcos Maidana, Khan found himself wobbled and nearly out on his feet in the 10th as a result of late comeback rally from the Argentinean.

My account of the fight can be read HERE.

While Maidana succeeded in making Khan look bad in the last few rounds of their fight, he was able to do so mainly because of Khan’s fatigue, defensive failings, and inability to finish him in the 1st round in spite of putting him down with a crippling body shot.

I wouldn’t call it a lucky shot per se, however I’d argue Maidana’s success in that fight had as much to do with his immeasurable intestinal fortitude as it did Khan’s own failings and lack of focus.

That being said, when Lamont Peterson came out for the 3rd round, and showed Amir Khan what can happen when a guy with good head movement and footwork comes out to brawl, pushed Khan to the edge from that point forward.

Khan may have stumbled into a bad situation with Maidana, but last Saturday night, Lamont Peterson brought the trouble straight to his front door.

While pressure fighters, and guys with iron-chins are a dime a dozen, it’s truly a rare sight to see a guy with technical pedigree put their skills towards hounding and clubbing away at another, equally technical fighter.

For me, it was like watching a carefully choreographed, bloodsoaked ballet.

Khan would skip about in his uppity way, trying to create distance, and, as if tethered to him with an invisible fishing line; Peterson would step right along with him, pounding away at the body all the way.

Watching expert infighters work their magic is one of the greatest spectacles in all of boxing, however watching Peterson, an innate boxer, lay into Khan with such agility and elegance, was a impressive and almost artful display of the craft I’ve rarely seen.

Throughout rounds 3 and 4, Peterson managed to breach Khan’s comfort zone and rip him with thudding body blows.

For whatever reason however, likely due to fear of overextending himself in his relentless, but physically taxing body attack, Peterson slowed down in the 5th and 6th round, doing extraordinarily well to avoid punches through careful shoulder points and rolls, but essentially gave the rounds away due to inactivity.

Pictured: Amir Khan swats Lamont Peterson across the chest with a hook.

The rest of the fight proceeded at a entertaining and feverish pace, with the lead changing virtually every 2 rounds.

By the end of it all, in spite of Peterson’s eye-opening performance, I expected a draw, or a 1 point victory for Khan.

As has been the case in virtually every fight in the past several months though, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Amir Khan, despite sounding like a whiny and decidedly broken-ass record in his post fight interview, claimed he felt he was fighting 2 men in the ring last Saturday night.

While I hate the idea of hometown favoritism in boxing, (the fight was held in Washington D.C., Peterson’s hometown) in all honesty, I feel there’s some truth to Khan’s claim.

Most of the judges for the Khan-Peterson fight were seasoned vets, and their scoring, based on the referees’ rulings, seemed entirely legit for the most part.

The real problem with the fight, despite the crowd-pleasing and competitive nature of the actual contest, was in the officiating of it.

In short, referee Joe Cooper did not strike me as a world class in-ring official.

Pictured: Joe "Coop Man" Cooper.

From the moment the 2 fighters touched gloves, and Cooper yelled the equivalent of “Look at me, I’m on TV!” you could tell he wasn’t quite up to snuff.

While an odd observation to make, given that he’s just a ref, Cooper struck me as particularly ungraceful and uncoordinated in the ring.

Often in poor viewing position of the action, and worse yet, often physically obstructing the fighter’s paths to one another, Cooper himself was actually the direct cause of Lamont Peterson’s slip in the first round.

Pictured: Referee Joe Cooper sweeping the leg.

That’s right, Lamont Peterson actually fell to the canvas due to having gotten his legs tangled with those of a slow and clumsy-as-fuck ref named Joe Cooper.

Another observation I made during the fight, was the fact that Cooper spent nearly the entire fight, or at the least the second half of it, yelling almost exclusively at Amir Khan.

There wasn’t a whole lot of clinching in the fight, as is typical of “good” fights, but there was a lot of leaning, mostly due to Peterson’s rough and physical infighting; however instead of telling the fighters to “punch/work out,” I noticed Cooper would always yell:

“Fight out Khan!”

Peterson was the one initiating the tie-ups, so if anyone, he should’ve have been the one being yelled at.

It probably doesn’t mean anything, but personally I started to get irritated by the one-sided nature of the referee’s chastisements.

All of this however, is merely a prelude to the true wrongdoings of Joe Cooper’s inept/corrupt officiating.

Throughout the first half of the fight, Cooper occasionally scolded Khan for pushing.

By scolded, I mean he wagged his finger at him, and told him to knock it off.

At the very end of the 7th however, Cooper actually stopped Khan from returning to his corner, and deducted a point for pushing.

Pictured: Joe Cooper deducting a point for pushing.

He deducted a point, for pushing.

I know pushing is technically illegal in the official rules of boxing, but to this day I’ve never seen it enforced.

It’s like clinching.

Clinching is technically illegal, but I never saw Ricky Hatton or B-Hop get points deducted for it.

Hell, when you get right down to it, some guys made their whole careers out of strong arming and pushing their opponents.

How do you think Jake LaMotta fought his way into the hall of fame?

How do you think Joe Frazier gave Muhammad Ali hell every time they stepped into the ring together?

How do you think Wladimir Klitschko is still the premier heavyweight in the world?

Oh wait, because when he feels like it, he can do this to people:

Pushing, or otherwise forcibly manipulating one’s opponent to create an advantageous position in the ring, is an expected consequence of a sport in which 2 people people punch each other in the brain all night.

Boxing isn’t always a give and take affair ala Rock and Sock ‘Em Robots.

That’s part of what makes it among the most inherently dramatic, visceral and human of all sports.

If a guy was tearing my gut to shreds with body blows all night, obscure 150 year old regulations aside, I could definitely see myself trying to push him away to catch a breather.

That being said, despite his horrible conduct in the fight through the 7th round, Joe Cooper went on to top himself by deducting another point from Khan for pushing in the 12th and final round.

Joe Cooper: "I AM, THE LAW!"

He deducted 2 points.

For pushing.

Who the fuck does that!?

Joe FUCKING Cooper that’s who.

So, on top of announcing himself to the cameras like a bro-hemian douche-rocket, on top of spending the whole night yelling at the foreign guy, on top of deducting 2 points for fucking pushing; Joe Cooper also single-handedly reversed the outcome of the fight.

That’s right, 2 judges awarded Peterson the victory via scores of 113-112, meaning Joe Cooper’s point deductions made all the difference.

Truly, it does indeed suck to be wrong sometimes.

As awesome as the fight was, it truly saddens me to know that boxing is, and forever will be, corrupt as a Chicago political official.

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15 Responses

    • Joe says:

      You can clearly hear the ref say “Last warning; No pushing!” with 1:20 left in the sixth round. Khan had been warned about pushing at least twice before the deduction. The biggest bullshit call to me was counting that shove in the first round as a knockdown.

      • aznbadger says:

        Yeah, I think we learned a lot from Khan-Peterson:
        1. Khan doesn’t have the best/most legit defense against effective pressure.
        2. Lamont Peterson can bring it when he needs to.
        3. Joe Cooper needs to seriously reevaluate his choice of profession.

  1. Joe says:

    Wasn’t letting me respond to your comment, so here’s a new one.

    Amir Khan’s defense has never looked very good to me. When he gets backed up he tends to do one of three things:

    1) Get hit in the face and then clinch/push,
    2) Throw a quick/usually ineffective flurry and then run away,
    3) run away without doing anything.

    I think he probably beats Peterson in a rematch, but I like just about everyone else rated at junior welter except Judah (still rated why?), Kotelnik, and Alexander.to beat him. I don’t know what makes him think he has a prayer against Mayweather. The fight I really want to see is Khan vs. Brandon Rios, but it probably won’t happen because the Peterson fight was supposed to (and still might) be his last at junior welter. Also because Khan isn’t signed to Top Rank.

    • aznbadger says:

      He is really is the epitome of a busy fighter with a bicycle. Hell, I’d make comparisons to Paulie Malignaggi if not for Khan’s ability to mix up his punches and fight aggressively against overmatched opponents. I’d prefer to see him stay at Jr. Welter for awhile, given the talent that’s active there at the moment, but oh well. Personally, despite his strange management/matchmaking team, I like Bradley at 140. He might not be the best pick, but I like him regardless.
      https://aznbadger.wordpress.com/2011/01/30/timothy-bradley-has-a-big-head/

  2. Joe says:

    I don’t know about you, but I’m stoked (do the kids still say stoked?) for Vazquez Jr. vs. Donaire. I think Vazquez has a good chance of pulling off the upset.

    http://www.badlefthook.com/2011/12/28/2667165/chavez-vs-rubio-official-fight-poster

    I can give or take Chavez Junior’s next fight. I can pretty much give or take Chavez Jr.

    • aznbadger says:

      Yeah, Chavez Jr. is a joke until he fights someone worthwhile. He takes too many punches, and he seems to get the best of most of his opponents as a result of his natural size advantage. He’s got a long way to go before I’ll start referring to him as “Chavez” as opposed to “Jr.” Donaire seems to be caught in limbo with his weight management as of late, as he seems to do nothing but talk about moving up to higher weights, but his fight with Narvaez made him look uncharacteristically unimpressive. Then again, Narvaez is likely to blame for that more than anything. I agree with you, Vasquez Jr.’s got a pretty good chance of pulling the upset.

      • Joe says:

        Vazquez’s defense isn’t perfect, but for someone with no amateur fights, it’s probably as good as can be expected. He claims to have learned from his loss to Arce in that regard. I guess we’ll see.

    • aznbadger says:

      I’ll believe it when I see it. Knowing Bob Arum, he’ll probably throw Cotto to the wolves again in letting him get another few years beat out of him by Pacquiao. I wouldn’t be surprised if Marquez got another shot as well, given the controversial shitstorm surrounding their last bout. I’d like Bradley to do SOMETHING, given his obvious in-ring ability, but I seriously doubt Arum would risk his golden goose against such a live dog. Mayweather is the logical choice, and has been for some time, but in this day and age where perfect records carry too much weight, and boxers fight only once or twice a year, both camps are weary of risking a loss. They have to understand that, regardless of whether they win or lose, their true fans aren’t going to turn their back on them.

      • Joe says:

        I agree that Arum isn’t likely to have Pacquiao fight anyone who isn’t signed to Top Rank. Bradley would indeed be a good fight.

        I hate Bob Arum so much.

      • aznbadger says:

        Yeah, promoters in general are an unscrupulous lot. If you ask me, greedy promoters, multiple belt factions, and the dawn of pay-per-view all had a hand in doing irreparable damage to the great sport of boxing.

    • aznbadger says:

      As it should be. If ever there was a fight that needed a rematch it’s this one. I’d expect Khan to be busier and win it next time around, but I’d imagine Peterson will be riding high in terms of confidence coming off the win. Should be a good fight regardless.

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