David Avanesyan is currently in possession of a 147-pound world title, which he successfully defended in his last fight against none other than legendary former five-time champion Shane Mosley. Count Avanesyan’s next opponent as thoroughly unimpressed by that accomplishment.
“No disrespect to Shane Mosley, but the younger Shane would be a different monster. The Shane of late is 45 years old, not quite the same,” Peterson says when asked about Avanesyan’s unanimous decision over Mosley last May. “I haven’t watched to many of [Avanesyan’s] fights, but I’m sure he hasn’t fought anyone of my caliber.”
Lamont Peterson (34-3-1, 17 KOs) is set to end a career-long 16-month layoff and make his 147-pound debut when he challenges Russia’s David Avanesyan (22-1-1, 11 KOs) at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
And while Peterson, a former 140-pound world titleholder, clearly believes Avanesyan has yet to match up against a fighter with his kind of skills, he’s nonetheless respectful of his opponent’s talents.
After all, you don’t go 21-0-1 over a 22-fight stretch—as Avanesyan has—by accident.
“David’s style is versatile. It looks like he can box a bit and bang some,” says Peterson, 33, from Washington, D.C. “He keeps his hands up high, so even though he’s there to be hit, it doesn't mean I’m going to get good, clean shots.
“He’s a strong fighter, too. You know a Russian fighter is going to come in with power. We made sure I’ll be able to match him any time the fight gets rough. I’ll be ready for anything. … It should be a good entertaining fight and a good first step at welterweight for me.”
Peterson tipped the scales Friday at a career-high 146½ pounds, having never previously fought above 144 pounds. That’s what he weighed for his last bout, a rugged majority decision over Felix Diaz on October 17, 2015.
Peterson was pushed to the limit in that contest, so much so that some argued the wrong man’s hand was raised. Ironically, a similar tune was sung in Peterson’s previous fight against still-undefeated Danny Garcia in April 2015. In that contest, he bloodied and bruised Garcia, but ended up on the wrong end of a majority decision.
Besides Diaz and Garcia, Peterson in recent years has shared a ring with such former world champion as Kendall Holt, Amir Khan and Victor Ortiz, as well as former title challenger Lucas Matthysse. In other words, Avanesyan—who weighed in at exactly 147 pounds—knows he’ll have his hands full in his second consecutive fight on U.S. soil.
“Peterson possesses great technical ability, footwork and a great jab,” says Avanesyan, 28, who will yield an inch in height and 3½ inches in reach to the 5-foot-9 Peterson. “We have game-planned for his many attributes and tactics, and have developed a strategy to beat him.”
Despite his lengthy ring hiatus, Peterson says he was a constant presence at the Headbangers Boxing Gym in D.C., and he insists he’ll come into this fight in peak physical and mental condition.
“I've gone through a full-blown training camp, and I’ve had a lot of energy,” says Peterson, whose previous long layoff was 14½ months between victories over Khan in December 2011 and Holt in February 2013. “I think the strength will be there, too, but I’m an energy fighter. I like to apply pressure and use my energy.”
If Peterson is leery of anything with respect to his opponent, it’s his ability to switch hit, as Avanesyan has been known to toggle back and forth from his natural orthodox stance to southpaw. But the challenger says he got in quality rounds with both right- and left-handed sparring partners, and he believes his ability to throw punches in bunches will be the difference.
“I think my speed will give him trouble,” Peterson says. “He's been able to handle everything in the past, but that doesn’t mean I won’t have advantages.
“I’m the more experienced fighter, and I have the skills to get the win.”
Should that win come, bigger things could await Peterson, including a possible shot at the winner of the 147-pound title unification bout between Garcia (33-0, 19 KOs) and fellow undefeated champ Keith Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) on March 4 in Brooklyn, New York.
If he had his choice, Peterson, who has never had a rematch, says he’d like another crack at Garcia. And his trainer feels likewise.
“I always thought Lamont and Danny Garcia was a fight that warranted a rematch,” Barry Hunter says. “It was a great fight that had a little bit of controversy around it. I still would like to see the rematch.
“So to me, Avanesyan is a guy who is an obstacle in our way. If we can’t go around him, we’ll go right through him. We want all of the top 147-pounders.”
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