If you appreciate boxing, you are a Lamont Peterson fan. If you are inspired by character, you are a Lamont Peterson fan. If you are dazzled by tangible expression of the infinite potential of the human spirit, you are a Lamont Peterson fan.
For those who are unfamiliar with Peterson and eager to witness firsthand the authenticity of these claims, tune in on May 18th, as he will showcase his pugilistic pedigree and indomitable spirit.
The IBF champion will face brutal power puncher Lucas Matthysse, the WBC interim champ, in a guaranteed classic. Both men are champions but due to boxing politics, it will be contested at 141 pounds so no titles are on the line.
The Argentine is a stalker who systematically breaks down his opponents with relentless pressure. Peterson, the Washington D.C. native, has proved he neither breaks nor backs down—the recipe for a clash of epic proportions.
The mental strength that powers Peterson through tough moments in fights comes from intense visual preparation and life experience.
"It is something that I work on every day before I sleep, and when I wake up, I imagine being in the fight. I see the tough moments of the fight. Anything can happen in a fight. You might get tired. You might get cut. You might get knocked down. I go over all of that. When the situation does happen in the fight, I am ready for it, because I have seen it and thought about it. It is no problem for me to have problems in a fight, because I know it's not over till it's over."
Peterson utilized this tactic when he won his title, dethroning the darling of the UK, Olympic silver medalist Amir Khan; he was not supposed to do that.
The fight proved to be Peterson's coming-out party to mainstream boxing fans, but hardcore fans knew already how gritty and determined he was. However, he was still a heavy underdog, as Khan was coming off a knockout destruction of Zab Judah and looked to be too skilled and too fast for Peterson. Khan was the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao—until he met an unbreakable will.
Khan was ahead early in the fight, but Peterson refused to go away. His will changed the momentum of the fight, and that daily mental envisioning delivered him through the tough spots. It was obvious to all that that he broke Khan. His self-belief in that fight is what made him beloved by people all over the world.
"I definitely don't want to lose. I know until that final bell rings, I have a chance and I try to do whatever I can do to change the fight. A lot of the times the fight comes down to who is going to give up first."
That mantra allowed him to win enough rounds to earn the win and the title. This disrupted pound-for-pound rankings and derailed mega-blockbuster pay-per-view bouts, but Peterson is a living testament to what the underdog can achieve.
Peterson grew up in a large family and faced financial challenges. As a result, he ended up living in shelters, then with relatives and then in friends' houses, cars and bus stations. Do not expect to hear him wallowing in self-pity.
"At the end of it all, now that we are out of it, all of my family are out of that and are successful now, so now I can say I am glad for it all. I am happy for the experience and I would not change it. It made me a better person. A tougher person. Sometimes in the fight, when things are going rough, I go back to my memory of the hard times in my past."
The 29-year-old proved he was tough in his last bout with Kendall Holt. The champion defended his title for the first time and did so impressively; he stopped Holt via knockout in the eighth round. While it may have appeared that he was losing the early part of the fight, he was actually implementing a strategy.
"I am a thinker first. I might see a shot but not use it until later in the fight. If I do the same shot three times in a row, my opponent will now read that. I use feints and mix things up."
Lucas Matthysse has a killer record of 33-2 with one no-contest. His two losses are highly controversial. Many people feel he won his split-decision losses to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander. What are undeniable are his pressure and power.
Thirty-one of Matthysse's wins have come by knockout. The incredible knockout rate makes him a very dangerous challenge for anyone. The lone knock against the machine that has won five in a row via knockout since his last decision loss to Alexander is that he lacked killer instinct in the later rounds. This is when Peterson has proved to be at his best.
"We are all human. I might get tired, my opponent might get tired. Sometimes it comes down to who is going to give up first. Who is going to give in. I am going to keep chopping at him and make sure that I am not the one who is going to give in."
Congrats to Golden Boy for making this fight. It will be electric. This transcends sports. All people should watch, be inspired by the heart of a champion and learn the life lessons that Peterson shows through his art. Even Peterson is excited for this fight.
"This should be a great fight. A battle. I'm excited for this fight and I hope everyone else is."
This is a very tough fight for anyone in the world. Win or lose, Peterson has many options available to him because of his talent and marketable fighting style. As neither title is on the line, he will walk out as the champ regardless of the outcome.
The 140/147-pound division is the deepest in boxing. Some options for him will be lucrative and dynamic bouts with Mike Alvarado, Zab Judah, Juan Manuel Marquez, Devon Alexander, Danny Garcia, Zab Judah, Amir Khan, Timothy Bradley and Marcos Maidana, The same can also be said for Matthysse.
Fans love knockouts, and Lucas delivers them. A win over Peterson will also put him in line for some marquee bouts against the aforementioned fighters. The winner is expected to fight Danny Garcia and to be recognized as the 140-pound king. Expect both fighters to give a great show and to walk out of the ring not only with their titles but as champions of the sport.
Peterson's 31-1-1 record, his IBF title and his viewer-friendly style will help facilitate megafights in the future. More importantly, the champ is more than a clever slogan to inspire; he is a living example. He shows people through physical manifestation of heart to keep fighting in life.
What happens when an Argentine wrecking machine collides with steel-like determination? Full-on action.
Fans will find out the details on May 18 in Atlantic City. The message that the champ has for his fans is to thank them for their support. He is a real-life Rocky story, and his message to people is far greater than any athletic achievement.
Movies, books, songs and cliches can inspire, but seeing is believing. To watch Peterson compete is to see what one can accomplish with self-determination and effort. Enjoy a great fight and learn a valuable life lesson.
"In life, when things don't go right, get up and do something about it. Pick yourself up and get going."
Special thanks to the champ for his time in doing this interview. Here is his Twitter handle: @kingpete26.