This Saturday night in Washington D.C., Showtime kicks off its 2014 season when IBF light welterweight champion Lamont Peterson puts his belt on the line against unbeaten Dierry Jean of Montreal.
This will be Peterson's first fight back since suffering a brutal Round 3 TKO loss in a title fight to Lucas Matthysse last May. For Jean, this is a major step up in competition.
Peterson grew up on the streets of the capital and has always drawn well there. He should have a friendly crowd on hand to welcome him back this weekend.
|Per Boxrec||Lamont Peterson||Dierry Jean|
|Record||31-2-1, 16 KOs||25-0, 17 KOs|
|Weight||140 pounds||140 pounds|
|Hometown||Washington, D.C.||Montreal, Quebec|
Lamont Peterson is two years younger but the far more experienced fighter. He has logged nearly 100 more rounds than Jean and has fought almost entirely world-class competition in recent years.
Jean's undefeated record is very much untested. He has talent and punching ability, but it remains to be seen what he can do against a championship-level opponent.
Like Jean Pascal, who fought last weekend, and WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, Jean is yet another Montreal fighter who originally hails from Haiti.
Not that long ago, Lamont Peterson was among the best feel-good stories in boxing. He was a former homeless child who was saved by the sweet science.
The Horatio Alger aspect of his story took a hit when he tested positive for synthetic testosterone in May 2012. A hotly anticipated rematch with Amir Khan had to be scrapped, which allowed Danny Garcia to instead step in and seize the day when he stopped Khan in four in July 2012.
After sitting out a suspension, Peterson stopped Kendall Holt in eight last February and then got smashed in three rounds by Lucas Matthysse in a non-title fight in May.
Dierry Jean is an undefeated fighter who has faced nobody of note and has virtually never fought outside Quebec. But Montreal is a fight-crazy city, and fans will rally to him if he can capture a belt.
Honesty requires that we note this is a title fight in name only. Peterson's TKO loss to Matthysse last year was fought at a 141-pound catchweight because the IBF didn't want to sanction it.
But since Garcia beat Matthysse in September, he's the only light welterweight on the Golden Boy roster who deserves to be called a world champion.
Lamont Peterson is a skilled boxer with a large amount of experience at the world-class level. He has quick feet and a fast, stiff jab. His head and shoulder movement are solid and he counters well off the shoulder roll with both the left hook and the overhand right.
Although he is a skilled boxer, Peterson can dig in and battle it out in the trenches when it is required of him. His TKO loss against Matthysse was his first career stoppage, and he has usually been very resilient when hurt early.
Dierry Jean has good speed and agility. He applies pressure well and is adept at avoiding punches and countering. His punches have pop.
This is a major step up in class for Jean, as he's been better than everybody he's faced. The confidence that comes from being undefeated will help him here against a fighter who is much more experienced but also riding a bad string.
Lamont Peterson has a history of starting slow in fights, and this cost him big time against Matthysse last May. Peterson has been knocked down early on multiple occasions.
He has a habit of getting drawn into exchanges that don't favor him. He keeps his stance wide to facilitate his head and shoulder movement, but it throws his balance off, causing him to get dropped by punches that might not be hard enough to do it otherwise.
Dierry Jean has never been beaten but also has never fought a top-notch opponent. If defense has appeared a secondary concern for him, it still hasn't caused him any significant trouble.
If he has been lazy with his jab or tends to lunge while trying to connect with his right hand, it hasn't cost him. If he's gone flat on his back foot with too much weight on it, he's had no problem getting away with it.
But Jean is going to have to look sharper than he does in his own highlight reels to get by a world-class professional like Peterson.
Lamont Peterson needs to stay careful but fully alert in the opening rounds. He's always been a slow starter, and he's coming off the most miserable performance of his career.
He can afford to lose a round or two early while gathering his bearings, but he needs to stay away from the big punches that could hurt him.
Once he has Dierry Jean's timing down, he should look to press the action, stringing together multiple punch combinations and pushing Jean onto his back foot.
Peterson is the larger-framed fighter, and by the middle rounds of the fight, he should be looking to impose upon Jean physically, pushing him backward and forcing him to fight off his back foot.
Cleotis Pendarvis had some luck at finding Jean with his lead hook in their title eliminator last year. That's a pretty good punch for Peterson, and he should be able to land it enough to beat Jean.
Dierry Jean needs to look to catch lightning in a bottle from the opening bell. Peterson has often been less than his best in the early rounds, and he's coming off an overwhelming loss to Matthysse, where he took quite a bit of punishment.
If Jean can land a big punch early, it is critical that he follow up on it. The more time he allows a veteran like Peterson to rebuild his confidence, the tougher the fight will be going down the stretch.
Jean started cautiously in his IBF eliminator against Pendarvis last year. That would be a mistake here.
Pendarvis was a less physically gifted fighter, so Jean could afford to sit back and react to him. But Peterson is a more talented and experienced opponent than anybody Jean has faced. The last thing he wants to do is make it easier for Peterson to get comfortable and establish his own pace.
Jean needs to press and attack and then circle around and press again.
Not that long ago, Lamont Peterson was viewed as one of the sport's brightest young talents. He had been in the ring with world champions and gutted out tough, come-from-behind wins.
His failed drug test in 2012 and his disastrous outing against Lucas Matthysse last May have shattered his image. He's just 29, but he already seems at least a little bit like a guy whose time has passed.
But Dierry Jean isn't exactly a blue-chip, undefeated prospect. He's 31 and started the sport late. His unbeaten record has been compiled almost exclusively against obscure journeymen and trial horses.
Nobody Jean has fought to date even exists in the same zip code as a world champion like Peterson.
Jean has ability, and he'll make this into a scrap with Peterson. But Peterson will have too much boxing skill and physical power for Jean to handle.
Peterson will carry most of the fight from about Round 5 on. In the end, he wins by decision with an approximate score of 116-112.