Peterson wins majority decision
District fighter is convincing enough to improve to 34-3-1, outpointing Felix Diaz in Fairfax.
District fighter Lamont Peterson got all he could handle from undersized and previously undefeated Felix Diaz, but the former 140-pound world champion did just enough, according to the judges, to earn a victory by majority decision Saturday afternoon at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax.
Fighting at a catchweight of 143 pounds, Peterson prevailed despite what he called severe cramping around his rib cage that became especially acute during the 12th and final round. That discomfort allowed his Dominican opponent to land with power and regularity, but Peterson (34-3-1, 17 knockouts) weathered the barrage to remain undefeated in six fights either in or around his home town.
Two judges awarded the decision to Peterson by scores of 117-111 and 116-112. A third judge scored it 114-114 in front of an exuberant crowd that encouraged Peterson by shouting “Headbangers,” a reference to the stable of fighters under the direction of trainer Barry Hunter at the Bald Eagle training facility in Southwest Washington.
“A lot of times, when you’re in your home town, the judges, and if they’re from here, they don’t want to seem like they’re being biased,” Peterson said. “So sometimes, I’m not criticizing no one, they overdo it, give [the opponent] rounds or whatever. I’m pretty sure he won a few rounds. I’d give him three to four rounds off the energy alone and me having to take breaks” because of the cramping.
Despite his compact stature, the 5-foot-5 Diaz (17-1, eight KOs) proved to be a game opponent particularly in the later rounds, absorbing Peterson’s best shots and returning fire. Peterson was unable to wobble the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, who managed to somewhat neutralize a five-inch reach disparity by attacking from close quarters.
After the fighters spent much of the opening round in the center of the ring, Peterson shifted the proceedings to the outside in Round 2 and held the clear advantage. Peterson had Diaz on the ropes during several junctures, once landing a clean right cross to punctuate a combination to the body and head. Peterson kept the action on the outside in the third round as well.
The pace picked up in Rounds 4 and 5 with Peterson dictating but Diaz rarely relenting.
“I knew something had happened to him, but I didn’t know what,” Hunter said of the cramping that began in Round 5. “I told him to go in there, hunt him down, make it physical and get to him, especially with the jab and the right hand.”
The former International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association champion was fighting for the first time since losing via majority decision to Danny Garcia on April 11 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. In that fight, Peterson surged in the later rounds and was considerably more active down the stretch, but two judges awarded the decision to Garcia based on the perception Peterson started too slowly.
He benefited from a different approach Saturday.
“I wanted to take it to him, and I did,” said Peterson, whose left eye was noticeably swollen during his post-fight news conference. “I think in one round I expended a lot of energy going forward and throwing him around, and that’s when I started feeling it in my hips. I had to slow down a little bit and just disguise it and try to get through the fight.