A tight split decision, where four total rounds across three cards proved the margin of victory, is the kind of haunting loss that could leave you sitting alone in the dark at 4 a.m. watching fight replay after fight replay.
Not so much, though, for Lamont Peterson, whose tantalizingly close fight with Danny Garcia in April ended in Peterson’s third career loss. But it hasn’t haunted the 31-year-old for a second.
“I never really had a problem with it,” Peterson said. “You go in there and you prepare yourself for those things. You prepare yourself for something like that to happen. When it does happen, you already have your understanding of it and you just move on.”
Move on Peterson (33-3-1, 17 KOs) will Saturday when he takes on 2008 Olympic gold medal winner Felix Diaz (17-0, 8 KOs) at EagleBank Arena on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia (NBC, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT).
Peterson hit the scale at 144 pounds Friday for their catchweight bout. Diaz, a native of the Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo, weighed in at 144.2.
If Diaz at all seems familiar to Peterson fans, it’s because he fought on the Peterson-Garcia undercard, pulling out a 10-round unanimous decision over Gabriel Bracero. Not that Peterson got a great look at the southpaw then, what with the slight matter of preparing for his own fight, but he’s seen plenty since then.
“He hasn’t been tested yet, but that doesn’t mean he can’t fight,” Peterson said. “He’ll have a lot to prove that he belongs as a top contender competing at the top level of the weight class. There's going to be a lot of pressure on him to perform.
“I’ll be nice and relaxed and cool because I know I’ve been there before. I’m just going to try to relax and execute my game plan, because I know I’ve been here before. He’ll have more worries, I believe.”
Peterson plans to capitalize on those worries with a game plan that will be different than the approach against Garcia, where Peterson spent half the fight playing defense and trying to tire Garcia before launching a sustained offensive attack.
“I’ll probably approach [this] fight differently,” Peterson said. "It’s two different fighters, two different styles. As long as I stay ahead of him, as long as I’m winning and controlling the action, if I’m moving he’ll have to chase. The minute he slows up and gives me some distance, that’s the minute I’ll open up and separate myself from him and take over the fight. Or if he wants to come in and slug it out, then I have that option, too."
Diaz, 31, won’t just have to overcome Peterson’s 3-to-1 edge in rounds boxed, but he’ll also have to take the fight in Peterson’s backyard. Fairfax is about 20 miles west of Peterson’s native Washington, D.C.
It makes the fight somewhat more challenging for Diaz, but it’s already a bout that sees Peterson at a crossroads of his own. He’s competed at 140 pounds for most of his career, but this is his second fight at a catchweight between 140 and 147.
With a win, Peterson has two worlds in front of him. And he has been up front about wanting to pursue all available options across the divisions. A loss, though, and those options start to narrow.
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