Welterweight boxing champion Lamont Peterson turned 30 on Jan. 24, but he opted to delay celebrating, according to his camp.
Instead, he spent the time preparing for his fight the next night. Then, on Jan. 25, the son of Southeast Washington delighted a crowd of 5,700, including many of his loved ones and supporters, by soundly defeating Haitian-born Canadian Dierry Jean to hold onto the championship.
The fight went a full 12 rounds, lasting past 11 p.m., with Peterson winning a unanimous decision.
Then it was time to celebrate.
By beating Jean, Peterson defended his International Boxing Federation (IBF) light welterweight title. With a record now of 32-2-1 (16 KOs), Peterson shares championship titles for his weight class (140 lbs) with Danny Oscar García, who holds the World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Council (WBC) titles and Russian Ruslan Provodnikov, the World Boxing Organization (WBO) champ. All three men have 16 knock outs and two losses. However, while Garcia has more titles, Peterson has the most experience with 35 fights, followed by Garcia (27) and Prodnikov (25).
Saturday night’s bout was held at the D.C. Armory, blocks from where Peterson grew up with his 11 siblings including brother, Anthony Peterson, who is also a lightweight boxing professional. Anthony Peterson has only one professional career loss.
The story of the Peterson brothers is a phenomenal tale of achievement, according to the pair’s assistant trainer Patrick Harris, who is also married to one of Peterson’s sisters, Takisha Peterson Harris.
As Harris recounts, with a father incarcerated, the Peterson brothers spent their early years living with their mother, who had faced several personal struggles. The boys were later placed in the District’s foster care system. Over the course of their childhood, Lamont and Anthony confronted drugs, violence, and even homelessness.
Ultimately, Harris brought the Peterson brothers to the Headbangers Boxing Gym where they met trainer Barry Hunter. Located in the Southwest D.C. Bald Eagle Recreation Center, Hunter’s Headbangers program is credited with producing 100 national amateur championships, two professional world titlists, and steering in the right direction countless youth like the Peterson brothers. To date, Lamont and Anthony are Hunter’s biggest successes. According to Harris, Hunter literally raised the boys as his own sons and under his tutelage they became Golden Glove champs, nearly making the 2004 Olympics Boxing Team.
On Saturday night, Anthony Peterson was sitting ringside, helping his brother.
“Body! Body! Focus on his body!” he yelled, at one point, jumping to his feet as he tried to direct Lamont to score points with his punches.
The advice was enough. Peterson won on all three judges’ scorecards: 115-113, 116-112 and 118-111.
Hunter, the trainer, gave his fighter high praise.
“Lamont took it to him,” he said of Jean. “He was good but Lamont was on another level.”
Peterson credited Jean for fighting a good fight.
“You can tell he came to fight,” Peterson said of his opponent, “not give up.”
Peterson said he was also impressed by the small but vocal group of Jean supporters, many of whom traveled hundreds of miles from Canada for the matchup. At one point, the Canadians outshouted the larger group of D.C. fans as the locals chanted “D.C.! D.C.! D.C.!” at deafening levels.
Following the bout, Jean expressed appreciation for the chance to fight Peterson. He also thanked his supporters, tweeting on Dierry Jean @DierryJean5h “Thank you for your incredible support. I am proud of my performance and experience that this combat brought me. I will come back stronger!”
Peterson now has his sights fixed on uniting all the boxing federation titles by beating the other junior welterweight champs, starting with Garcia.
And with five of his victories won in D.C., he looks forward to one day bringing all the championship belts home.
The writer is a former junior welterweight All American Team boxer, now lawyer in the District of Columbia and can be reached at Talib@talibkarim.com.