Lamont Peterson grinds to get the mental edge in the ring

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When Pope Francis came to Washington, D.C., at the end of September, it was the kind of thing that shut the city down. Presidents? Oh, the nation's capital has presidents to spare. Those guys are always hanging out on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Lamont Peterson

Lamont Peterson credits his intense training with giving him a mental edge in the ring. (Delane Rouse/Premier Boxing Champions)

Popes, though, are a different story. Only two other popes had been to the White House before. When Pope Francis came to D.C., residents flocked to the streets to catch a glimpse of Il Papa. 

Except Lamont Peterson. The visit came right in the middle of training camp, after all. And Peterson isn’t the kind of guy who deviates from his training regimen for anyone.

His single-minded focus leads to some marathon training sessions, and they’re clearly a source of pride. When asked about Felix Diaz, his opponent Saturday night at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia (NBC 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT), the first critique Peterson shoots out is that he doesn’t think the 2008 Olympic gold medalist will have the conditioning to hang.

“You go hard and you go hard as long as you can,” Peterson says of his training sessions. “A lot of people don’t know how to get in shape. They train, and as soon as they get tired they stop. You never really progress like that. You stay at the same level.

“When you get tired, that’s the time to work. A lot of people don’t like that feeling. As soon as they get tired they stop. I just keep pushing. That’s how I’m able to extend my workouts for sometimes 3-4 hours. That’s been my approach since the day I started boxing.”

Those grueling workouts, where he can stay at peak intensity for upward of 40 minutes, aren’t just crucial to the physical matter of hanging tough in the ring. They’re essential to the mental game.

When Peterson fought Danny Garcia on April 11 in Brooklyn, New York, he was smooth and composed through the early rounds as he circled, dipped and dived around the Philly fighter.

It was in the later rounds, though, where the conditioning came into sharp focus. He was just as crisp and intense in the 10th and 11th rounds as he was in the second and third, and he used that energy to bring the fight to a possibly flagging Garcia.

“I figure if we’re in there and we’re fighting and it’s going to come down to it and it’s will on will, you’re going to stop before me,” Peterson said. “I know I’m in shape. We can keep going. You can do four, five, even eight rounds. But you’re going to stop before me. That’s what keeps me going.”

Diaz has just started testing the deep waters, going the distance in a pair of 10-rounders his last two times out. But he’s never gone 12 rounds. Those final six minutes could make for a very long fight if Diaz isn’t ready, because Peterson, no doubt, will be.

For complete coverage of Peterson vs Diaz, make sure to check out our fight page.

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