For the better part of a year, hard-core fight fans have been asking some version of this question: What the heck happened to Lamont Peterson? Turns out, Peterson is alive, well and ready to take aim at one of the most stacked divisions in boxing.
A former 140-pound world champion, Lamont Peterson (34-3-1, 17 KOs) will end a 16-month layoff—the longest of his career—on Saturday night when he challenges 147-pound champion David Avanesyan (22-1-1, 11 KOs) at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
It marks the first time Peterson will fight at a weight north of 144 pounds.
“You never know what the right time is to move up in weight, but the time is now for me … and I’m happy about it,” Peterson said. “Making 140 pounds was getting tough. I think it hampered my performances a bit, and that let us know it was time.
“My body has been calling for this for a while. I’m finally listening to it.”
Peterson was last in the ring on October 17, 2015, when he earned a 12-round majority decision over 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz in a 144-pound bout. That followed a debatable majority decision loss to Danny Garcia at 143 pounds in April 2015.
Those two bouts in 2015 continued a three-year stretch in which Peterson fought twice annually. Despite the disruption of that cycle last year, the 33-year-old Washington, D.C., resident isn’t at all concerned about it heading into his bout with Avanesyan, who has fought twice since Peterson was last in the ring.
“People are going to talk a lot about my layoff, but honestly that only affects people who aren't always in the gym,” said Peterson, who trains under Barry Hunter at the Headbangers Boxing Gym in D.C. “I have been in the gym working hard this entire time. I’ve been working on my craft. I got better, and you’ll see [that Saturday night].
“I have no concern about ring rust. It’s not even a thought in my head. I would be shocked if that was a problem for me.”
“ Big fights are what matter to me. When you’re coming up, it’s all about winning a title. Having fought for 12 years, that doesn’t matter to me as much. ” Lamont Peterson
Peterson certainly isn’t tiptoeing into shallow waters in his return to action, as Avanesyan is 21-0-1 since losing his second professional fight. That includes a unanimous decision over former three-division world champion Shane Mosley in May in his last bout.
But while Peterson is respectful of his Russian opponent—“Avanesyan is a good fighter,” he says—the boxer known as "Havoc” also is keeping an eye on the rest of the 147-pound division, which includes champions Kell Brook, Keith Thurman and Garcia, the latter two of whom will square off March 4 in a title unification bout.
Peterson said he’s not so much concerned about recapturing some hardware, but rather challenging himself against the best competition out there.
“I’m just anxious to be in the welterweight division, which is hot right now,” said Peterson, who won two 140-pound world titles in December 2011 by beating Amir Khan. “I’m ready to mix it up with the other guys in the weight class.
“Big fights are what matter to me. When you’re coming up, it’s all about winning a title. Having fought for 12 years, that doesn’t matter to me as much.”
However, as he looks at his boxing odometer and sees 38 professional contests, Peterson realizes the stop sign is coming into view, so he doesn’t have a whole lot of time to line up those big fights.
One thing is certain, though: Whoever the opponent, Peterson will relish each and every opportunity he gets to lace up the gloves from here on out—starting with Saturday’s bout against Avanesyan.
“Stepping into the ring, fight night, is one of the greatest feelings that I’ve felt,” he said. “There’s a whole buildup during training camp, every night, every morning, about how it’s going to be, but it’s always different from what you see in your head.
“Dedication, patience and sacrifice are the three golden rules to longevity in this game. I know for me it’s coming to an end soon, so I’m going to enjoy this last run and have fun.”
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