As soon as the decision was announced the crowd erupted with the fury they had held in all night. For most of the evening the cheers of Amir, Amir were louder and more numerous than those of DC, DC. It sounded like the typical Nationals vs. Phillies game that happens in DC, or the games the Capitals played against the Penguins before the arrival of Ovechkin. Perhaps that is why the crowd was so reluctant to be loud before they knew a winner was in hand.
It has been 20 years since a major championship has been won in a major sport by a DC based team. In recent years DC faithful have had to suffer through the Dan Snyder led Redskins, back to back 100 loss seasons by the Nationals, Capitals early exits from the playoffs, and the Wizards. As soon as the decision was announced all that recent heartbreak turned into utter joy and Hall E of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center erupted with cheers.
The fight itself was one of the better fights in recent memory, and before going much further the controversy should be discussed. It is rare these days to find a major boxing match that is lacking in controversy, and those that focus on the two points deducted from Khan will end up missing the athletic battle this fight was. The problem with blaming the two point deduction is it focuses more attention on just how close this fight was. It wasn’t predicted to be a close fight, and when a fighter is as heavily favored as Khan was going into this fight then two points shouldn’t make that much of a difference. Plenty of people doubted the fight would even reach the twelfth and final round where the second, and more controversial, of the points was deducted.
When the opening bell rung Amir Khan was on Lamont Peterson. Dancing around and peppering with punches. Peterson had no answer for Khan’s quickness or hand speed and turned into a defensive fighter. In the process of doing so he backed onto the end of Khan’s punches and after a couple well timed combos Peterson went down. The fight looked like a mismatch and that perhaps Khan should have been favored by more. Peterson was sluggish and his punches lacked snap when compared to the thus far superior Khan.
The first round ended before Peterson’s night did and he was able to make it back to his corner from some much needed instruction. What was said exactly to him is unknown, but from the second round on he was a different fighter. He was the aggressor. Chasing Khan around the ring after landing heavy body blow after heavy body blow. At times Khan looked like he wanted no more of Khan’s punches and was content to run him around the ring until he hopefully tired out.
Lamont Peterson did not tire out. He pushed the pass and got in close to negate the power of Khan’s punches, and while Khan was unwilling to take a punch of two to land his own, Peterson had no such issues. The final punch stats tell the story of this. Khan was the busier fighter throwing 757 total punches compared to 573 for Peterson, but the ratio of 238 punches landed for Khan and 226 for Peterson is much closer. When it is broken down to power punches and jabs the story becomes even more clear.
Khan landed 69 of 291 jabs and Peterson 38 of only 167. The big difference is in power punches. Of all the statistics this is the one in which Peterson is closest in raw number of punches thrown throwing 406 power shots compared to 466 for Khan, but Peterson holds the edge in punches landed 188 to 169. Khan might have thrown more punches, but Peterson did a better job of making his punches count and when Peterson threw a punch it was meant to cause damage.
This was an evenly matched and entertaining fight and no matter what the final decision said this is a fight people want to see again. For 12 rounds both Peterson and Khan gave it their all. Peterson adjusted and found a strategy that wounded Khan and caused him to be the defensive fighter, and Khan never lost his quickness or hand speed. In the rematch Khan is going to know Peterson’s strategy and will look to keep the fight in the middle of the ring. Khan spent too much of this fight backpedaling and backed against the ropes.
There are two ways to look at this fight. To some it will be a good fight they are looking forward to watching again. A fight that wasn’t supposed to be close but Peterson made close with heavy power shots to the body and the aggression to move Khan around the ring. And then there are those that will look at it and see a robbery of a superior fighter forced to fight the underdog in his hometown. The second is unfortunate, and should not be the focus of such a great athletic contest, but remember that focus only emphasizes how close this fight was. A fight that was to be a prelude to Khan moving up in weight to take on the likes of Mayweather and Pacquiao. Lamont Peterson was meant to be a stepping stone in the career of Amir Khan, but instead that stone was larger than Khan anticipated and has changed the flow of his career.