by Charles Jay
All in all, I kind of enjoyed it.
Even as Saturday night’s fight was progressing, this looked like Amir Khan’s most “professional” opponent to date. What I mean by that is, he may not have been a good a “technician” as Andriy Kotelnyk, or as big a puncher as Marcos Maidana, but he was the best all-around fighter he has yet faced. And this was a good fight, taking on a quality that perhaps some had not expected – one where Peterson was the pursuer looking to land the big punches, while Khan was continually moving, holding off Peterson like a matador, and landing his share of shots along the way.
The punches Khan hit Peterson with were not without some pop, and I’d have to wonder about Peterson’s power, with all the clean shots he was nailing Khan with, unless I was going to give a lot of credit to Khan’s chin, which is another possibility.
This fight was a good example of why, even if I am scoring a fight, I don’t put too much weight on the scoring in my post-fight analysis. When someone with a professed opinion goes into a fight, he does so with some pre-conceptions, and those creep into the way he watches it. So some people – including myself – are going to see what they want to see. Some people wanted to see Khan as a guy who was commanding things about the ring, providing defense and landing more jabs and some clean punches, and being more active. I was seeing Peterson as the aggressor, making the fight happen, and Khan as someone who was doing his own version of the hit-and-run, trying whatever he could to avoid standing there and engaging. For either guy, I suppose you could make a case.
It seemed clear to me what the folks from HBO wanted to see. Sure, they’ll take the story of Peterson’s homelessness as a youngster; the despair he had to dig himself out of, and exploit it to a certain point, but Khan is the fighter they have the investment in. He’s the Olympic star, the international “icon” (allow me to use that term loosely), and he opens up more doors in more places. That’s how you heard Khan being mentioned in association with big fights against big fighters, when he really hadn’t done a lot to get to that level.
You see, HBO WANTS that to be the case, and therefore it WAS the case.
And so a constant theme during this fight was how Peterson was not letting his hands go enough; that he was giving rounds away. I suspect there were a lot of people watching who saw things differently, as Peterson did nothing but pursue Khan and try to make a fight from about the third round forward. He didn’t seem to get a lot of credit for that, although they should have, and during the fight they didn’t highlight Khan’s running around, or the extensive amount of holding behind the head he was doing, which they should have as well. I’m not sure that was “ring generalship” as much as it was an instinct for survival. But to some extent, I guess, it was working for him.
A close decision shouldn’t have shocked anyone, and I couldn’t tell you exactly what criteria the judges were using (different judges tend to look at fights in different ways, as one would expect), but you have to like the way Peterson was putting his punches together on those occasions when he was able to catch up to Khan, and my suggestion is that perhaps he wasn’t getting full credit from the judges either.
Penalty points aside (and believe me, things kind of evened out there), I’m not so sure Peterson didn’t win that one “on the legit.”
What disappointed me more than any actions, or lack of same, by the referee, was that I just didn’t realize Khan was such a crybaby. Somebody at the HBO finishing school should counsel him that someone who runs quite a bit around the ring, then, when he gets close enough, holds his opponent behind the head for virtually an entire fight, then complains that ““I was up against two people in there,” doesn’t usually become recognized as a boxing “superstar.”
And what does this kid have to complain about anyway? All things considered, he is way ahead of the game. After all, how many fighters, who haven’t beaten any real world-class foes, can get blasted out in one round by someone who has never become a contender (Breidis Prescott), then only has to engage in two non-competitive fights before being steered into a title shot?
It’s their good fortune that neither Khan, Richard Schaefer, or Golden Boy’s in-house boxing publication will have to cry for very long. Khan had a rematch clause to protect him in the event of a defeat, so what Golden Boy and HBO will simply do is throw enough money at Lamont Peterson to make him go over to London and defend the belt. That way they can do whatever they can “steal” it back, the same fate American opponents have experienced for years when going overseas.
Yeah, that’s the way I SEE IT.