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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
He deducted 2 points.
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.