Boxing rematches tend to be ill-tempered affairs. In a game where half the battle is over-hyping and declaring hatred for an opponent, to meet someone again is to start insulting afresh. In the case of Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson, though, there appears to be some reasons behind the teams hurling abuse at each other.
In Washington DC in December Lamont Peterson stripped Amir Khan of his WBA super-lightweight and IBF light-welterweight titles in controversial fashion. Twice Khan was docked points by bout referee Joseph Cooper for pushing, which Khan felt was harsh. Then it emerged days later that there was footage of an unknown man in a hat sitting beside one of the scoring judges and pointing out parts of his scorecard.
Since these ‘irregularities’ have come to light the WBA have enforced a rematch.
The mysterious man was later revealed to be an IBF volunteer named Mustafa Ameen. He denied any interference with scorecards. On top of this Peterson himself has said to the BBC that, “It seems Team Khan still have problems with what happened in DC. I can only tell them that nothing shady happened, but I’m sure they won’t take my word for it.”
Khan has not taken his word for it and now has his chance to win back his titles, but the former Olympic silver medalist will know it is no small ask. While some of those in the UK suggest he could have won, many pundits agree that he made incredibly hard work of the fight. He will know what to expect from Peterson now and he will not be in the American’s home town of DC again, but he is still fighting abroad. Vegas is still in his opponents homeland.
Now as both camps prepare for a May showdown in the desert one cannot help but wonder if Khan can overturn the odds. He is backed by experienced coach Freddie Roach, arguably one of the smartest in the game. He is also driven by a nation embarrassed by its recent downturn in boxing terms. He has made a point of appearing on television, sharp suited and full of talk of injustices.
Peterson has called him arrogant and both will be aware that it will be defining moment. Peterson reckons he is ready to die, Khan reckons he is fighting for his career. Which one sounds like they are going to stride out onto the arid earth of Las Vegas, victorious?