Last night, the boxing world received confirmation that Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson would follow-up their controversial December battle with a rematch on May 19 at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay. After months of promotional jockeying and even an announcement from Peterson’s camp that they were likely to instead face Juan Manuel Marquez the two sides finally came to their senses and did not just what’s right for their wallets, but also what’s right by the fans and their legacies.
The December fight was one of the best bouts of 2011 and also a prime example of the wackiness in boxing politics. After a strong start by Khan, Peterson slowly worked his way back into the fight behind a relentless and vicious body attack. The bout became a big contrast in styles as Khan sought to keep the action outside with his superior speed while Peterson dominated whenever they got close.
The back and forth started to become mired by the interjection of referee Joe Cooper, who took two crucial points from Khan for shoving. Although a strong case can be made for Peterson winning the decision even without the point deductions, the one that came in the 12th proved decisive on the scorecards and put a taint on the victory. Little did anyone know that the points issue would just be the beginning of the hoopla surrounding this bout.
Khan and Golden Boy Promotions immediately launched a media campaign to have the fight overturned by revealing discrepancies in the scoring. Khan’s media work didn’t get the loss reversed, but it succeeded in raising enough questions about the fight that an immediate rematch was ordered.
Initially, Peterson’s camp rejected the idea of a Khan rematch. Having made his biggest purse with Khan, Peterson was now seeing bigger dollar signs with the hopes of possibly securing a fight with either Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. The latter seemed close, as Top Rank’s Bob Arum began telling writers his grand plan for the rest of the year was a mini-tournament featuring Timothy Bradley facing Pacquiao and Peterson taking on Juan Manuel Marquez.
Thankfully, all that ended last night with the rematch officially becoming a go. The bottom line is that both Khan and Peterson have unfinished business with other. Khan, perhaps thinking too far ahead to a Mayweather fight, needs to avenge this defeat to close out his junior welterweight career. On the other hand, Peterson needs to show that first fight was indeed legit and he doesn’t need help from a hometown referee to win a title.
Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson could have left this bout on the table. There’s money they could make elsewhere. Credit is due to them and their handlers for not chasing dollars and being absorbed by inflated self-worth. In the end, the main reason this bout is happening is because Khan and Peterson still have yet to answer who is the better man between them. And in boxing, or any sport for that matter, the pursuit of that answer should be the main concern of any elite athlete.