It’s typical of professional boxing to entertain us with one of the best fights in years on Dec. 10 and then to shoot itself in the foot due to a controversial decision. WBA and IBF Jr. Welterweight Champion Amir Khan of England traveled to Washington D.C and took on Lamont Peterson in his hometown and the two boxers put on one of the best displays of determination, courage, speed and skill for many a moon.
However, the excellent fight was marred with controversy when Peterson won by a split decision by scores of 113-112, 113-112, and 110-115. Fans weren’t upset with what many were calling a hometown decision; instead it was a result of hometown refereeing.
The judges couldn’t be blamed for the scoring since Khan would have won a unanimous decision if it wasn’t for referee Joe Cooper, also from the Washington area, who deducted two points from Khan during the bout. Without the deductions, Khan would have won by scores of 114-113, 114-113, and 117-110.
The two traded shots and combinations back and forth over 12 exciting rounds and while many rounds were hard to score, the general consensus of most fans was that Khan did enough to hang onto his titles, even if it was a draw. He dropped Peterson in the first round to jump into a quick lead on the scorecards.
Peterson turned it up during the middle rounds and Khan seemed to control the later ones. He may now regret the decision to take on Peterson in his backyard. However, there can be no criticism of Peterson, who definitely fought the fight of his career in this epic battle. He’s generally known as a boxer first, but turned this fight into an all-out brawl and just kept pressing the action.
Cooper took a point from Khan in the seventh round for pushing, which is very rare in a boxing match. Points are often taking for excessive holding, but pushing is generally considered to be part of a fight. Khan was also deducted a point in the 12th and final round, but it’s unclear if this was also for pushing or for hitting on the break. The problem is nobody knows for sure since Cooper hasn’t explained his calls. Cooper never gave Khan any strict warnings prior to the deductions either.
Khan and his trainer Freddie Roach were upset about the point deductions and said after the fight that the refereeing was bias in their eyes. It’s hard to argue with them, but perhaps the best thing about the controversial decision is that fans will get to see a rematch of this classic. Peterson said he’d definitely give the former champion a chance to win his titles back.
Khan said Peterson was leading with his head low and he was pushing it away to make sure he didn’t get butted. Peterson said he didn’t mind the pushing, but didn’t like having his head held down by the Englishman. Khan’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya has asked the commission for an explanation of the refereeing decisions and the scoring.
If you agree with the decision or not, it was an all-action fight that entertained from start to finish. With the win, the 27-year-old Peterson raised his record to 30-1-1, with 15 KOs while the 25-year-old Khan’s record fell to 26-2, with 18 KOs.
Khan was attempting to defend his titles for the sixth time and will now be more determined than ever to win them back. A rematch is almost certain and two of the major negotiating points are bound to be the location of the fight and the referee. Washington D.C. and Joe Cooper will definitely be out of the question for Khan’s camp.