(Left to right at Hamilton Live: Corona babe; Jermell Charlo; Lamont Peterson; Golden Boy Promotions' Bernard Hopkins; Dierry Jean; Gabriel Rosado; Corona babe. credit for blurry-ass photo: me)
WASHINGTON, D.C. — "Lamont Peterson doesn't think like other fighters" might be an understatement. He has spent the week before his Saturday bout against Dierry Jean savaging the business of boxing, taking aim in particular at the proliferation of title belts and how boxers acquire them. Coming off a knockout loss to Lucas Matthysse, a reporter asked him after the Peterson-Jean news conference, is this a must-win fight? The usual answer is to play into it, to up the stakes — promoters like declaring bouts a "must-win fight" for that reason — or to sidestep it somewhat, to say that every fight matters and every win counts.
"I don’t feel like I don’t have any pressure. I don’t feel like it’s a must-win or I have to prove anything," Peterson said, not even to himself. "At the end of the day, I love boxing. That’s why I’m going to fight Saturday night. Because I enjoy it."
That's not the same as indicating that he doesn't care about winning, although whether his mindset is the best one for that aim is fair game for speculation. And Jean plans to put that mindset to the test on Showtime this weekend at the Armory in their junior welterweight tilt, a meeting of experienced vet coming off a loss and unproven prospect/borderline contender.
"His chin is a –" the French-speaking Canadian Jean started to say, then made an invisible question mark in the air with his finger. "I need to hit him at the beginning to remind him of the last knockout he had. He’s going to be on his toes and think carefully and then that’s when I’m going to be able to apply more pressure."
One might suspect that with Jean talking it up, and with so many in the media asking him how he was going to bounce back from that knockout — Peterson has hit the deck plenty, but usually has risen and done his best work after righting the ship, such as against Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan and Victor Ortiz — that Peterson couldn't help but be thinking about it. He insisted he wasn't.
"A lot of people have questions about how you come back from a knockout. I’m going to show you," he said. "Basketball players, they shoot airball free throws but they might make 90 percent of them. For me I didn’t have a hard time accepting it or moving on but it seems like the media did. It’s boxing, man. At the end of the day we go in there, we train hard, we go in there to win."
Nor, Peterson said, does the hometown atmosphere get to him.
"You can only be distracted when they’re allowed," Peterson continued. "I can train every day with all the people in this room and I won’t be distracted. I like to say: I’m here, but I’m not. My family knows that. They see my face, we don’t even speak. They know how serious I am about boxing."
Jean said he doesn't plan to worry about being the visiting fighter, despite Khan's complaints about the D.C. judging in his loss to Peterson in 2011. That's because he plans to score a knockout and take it out of the judges' hands. Not that he's taking Peterson lightly; he knows Peterson is the more experienced fighter, but said he has the tools to deal with what Peterson brings.
"I have power, I have a chin, and I have the stamina," Jean said. "I can take advantage of his chin. And I need to worry about his volume and his reach."
Jean also boasted of his speed, something Peterson acknowledged: "My thoughts is, I’ll come out with this victory. It should be a good fight, an entertaining fight. I’ve seen him fight on film. He’s tough. He’s fast, he’s got good speed and power, he’s got everything you’re looking for in the fighter."
Although Jean hasn't faced anyone nearly on the level of Peterson, he said he learned from the adversity he faced in his last fight, when he suffered a cut from a head butt and rallied for the victory over Cleotis Pendarvis.
While Peterson and Jean were understated at the news conference — neither said much of consequence until reporters spoke to them on the stage afterward — the two men on the chief supporting fight were significantly more brash.
Gabriel Rosado, burned by a close decision loss against J'Leon Love that was later ruled a no contest when Love tested positive for a banned substance, said he had learned his lesson: He wants to put his "destiny in my own hands and go for the kill" against Jermell Charlo to avoid the judges. And he advertised his experience and guts in taking on bigger middleweight killers when he could've stayed at junior middleweight, where Saturday's meeting will take place.
"A lot of guys are getting built-up records and the fans ain't stupid," Rosado said. "I'm excited because it's a new year and I'm going back down to… super welterweight, where I have unfinished business." He said he's not physically struggling with the return to 154 pounds.
There's a little bit of a parallel with the main event, where Rosado is the experienced fighter coming off a loss (to Peter Quillin, on a controversial stoppage due to a cut) and Charlo is an unproven talent. He said he and his twin brother get confused with one another lot — Bernard Hopkins, in introducing him, said about four or five different names for the Charlo on the stage — but they're working together toward the same goal.
"We at a stage in our life and career where we got to put up or shut up," he said. "We got winning with a KO is a must… I want to be recognized as one of the top 154 pounders. So Saturday night, you guys should be expecting something great from me. If his face holds up, we going 12 rounds. If not, I'm knocking him out early."
And maybe that was a little confusing, too; it's only a 10-round fight, and Charlo sounded as though he was indicating that he thought he could cut up Rosado's skin the way others have to get a stoppage, but if not he was prepping to go the distance and win a decision. But that a KO was a must. OK, it's more than "maybe" confusing.
But it's a solid bout, if past Rosado outings are any indicator: Fast, slicker boxers like Charlo give Rosado trouble, but Rosado has at minimum given everyone he's faced trouble, too.
Some of the undercard bouts will air on Sho Extreme, although the roster is tentative. Here are the likely bouts:
I haven't caught a Dominic Wade bout since 2011, when I thought he traded punches willingly against an opponent who was competitive. The super middleweight prospect is signed with Al Haymon and will face Dashon Johnson, an established and mostly sturdy trial horse who's coming off a win over Craig McEwan.
Most people know Rau'shee Warren by now, right? Repeat Olympian, trying to go from a speedy, feather-fisted bantamweight amateur to an exciting pro. He takes on 75 (!) fight veteran German Meraz. He's appearing on the second consecutive Peterson undercard, same as prospects Robert Easter, Jr. (in a lightweight meeting with well-worn D.C.-area trial horse Daniel Attah) and Jamel Herring (another 2012 Olympian, fighting at lightweight against Antonio Sanchez). Warren-Meraz and Easter-Attah are booked for the Extreme part of the ticket at 7 p.m. ET along with Wade-Johnson.
Anthony Peterson, the lightweight brother of Lamont, was scheduled for the undercard originally, but he was pulled. He said at the news conference that he was going to be getting a title shot of some kind against someone (he didn't have many details, obviously), and that it would likely be in March.
Some of the undercard dudes are affiliated with Adrien Broner's "Band Camp," which is useful information for some fans in deciding whether to instantly root against or for them. Herring, apparently, and lightweight Raynell Williams.