D.C.’s Lamont Peterson wins WBA welterweight title by unanimous decision.
cincinnati— Lamont Peterson’s welterweight debut began with scant activity but finished in a flurry of punishing combinations, particularly during the championship rounds, leaving no doubt that the District boxer and his team had made the correct choice in moving up to 147 pounds.
Saturday night’s unanimous decision over Russia’s David Avanesyan at Cintas Cinter for the World Boxing Association welterweight championship provided full validation, with two judges scoring the bout 116-112 and a third 115-113.
Peterson, the former unified world champion at 140 pounds, showed few effects from his 16month layoff, among the longest of his career. A left shoulder injury suffered in training didn’t appear to limit him, either.
“I felt pretty good, felt strong. Energy was there,” Peterson, 33, said after posing for a picture with his team in his locker room and a belt around his waist. “I wouldn’t say any rust. Just great to be back in there.”
Peterson (35-3-1, 17 knockouts) did his best work in rounds 10 through 12, at one point bringing the crowd to its feet with a combience that backed Avanesyan (22-2-1, 11 KOs) into and almost through the ropes. Avanesyan, for his part, rarely was able to connect through Peterson’s defensive stance.
As has been his trademark, Peterson used the early rounds of his co-main event, before Adrien Broner’s match against Adrian Granados, to measure his opponent while establishing his jab. He did so with precision, particularly in Round 1, keeping the fight in the center of the ring and repeatedly working the body from close range.
But by fighting mostly inside, Peterson at times nullified his reach advantage, allowing Avanesyan, 28, to land occasionally in subsequent rounds. The blows did little to rattle Peterson, though; he counterpunched to the body repeatedly, another hallmark of his deliberate fighting style.
“We took a chance going in there injured,” said trainer Barry Hunter, who did not reveal Peterson’s ailment until after the fight. “Nobody knew. We had to keep that a secret. Number two, the layoff, and three, to go up in weight, so we had a few things we had to deal with, but we prepared, and that’s what led to a victory.”
Peterson was fighting for the first time since he scored a majority decision against Felix Diaz in October 2015. During that fight at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Peterson endured severe cramping, most noticeably in his midsection, leading Hunter to conclude that the time to go up in weight was at hand.
The climb in divisions follows a natural progression; Peterson’s previous two fights were contested at catchweights of 144 and 143 pounds, respectively. Peterson, the former unified super lightweight champion, last fought at 140 pounds on Aug. 9, 2014, collecting a 10th-round knockout of Edgar Santana at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to retain the International Boxing Federation title.
The IBF soon stripped Peterson of the belt, however, because he declined a mandatory defense and instead faced Danny Garcia. Peterson lost to Garcia in a controversial majority decision.
Garcia next faces Keith Thurman in a unification bout for the WBA super welterweight title and the World Boxing Council belt. Peterson presumably would be in line to meet the Thurman-Garcia winner.
“It didn’t seem like I forgot too much from my last fight,” Peternation son said. “Sometimes you don’t get in the ring for a long time and everything seems kind of new. Actually I felt calmer in this fight, going into the fight, than I did my last one.”
Avanesyan last had fought ninth months ago, logging a unanimous decision over Shane Mosley to claim what was then the interim WBA welterweight title.
Notes: Broner won a split decision in main event, a welterweight non-title fight. He improved to 33-2 with 24 knockouts. Granados dropped to 18-5 with 12 KOs.
Peterson-Avanesyan followed a bout featuring another D.C.-area fighter, Thomas Williams Jr. The light heavyweight (20-3, 14 KOs) was seeking a return to world title contention in his first fight since he lost via fourth-round knockout to WBC champion Adonis Stevenson on July 29, 2016, in Quebec City.
Williams’s undefeated opponent Saturday, Marcus Browne, was not so accommodating in that regard, ending the fight with a knockout 42 seconds into Round 6. Browne (19-0, 14 KOs) also sent Williams to the canvas in Rounds 2 and 4, and he was in command from the opening bell.