Lamont Peterson vs. Edgar Santana: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2014

Lamont Peterson vs. Edgar Santana: Preview and Prediction for Title Fight

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Lamont Peterson makes the third defense of his IBF Junior Welterweight Championship on Saturday night at the Barclays Center, taking on unheralded local fighter Edgar Santana.

    Peterson captured the title in an upset of Amir Khan late in 2011, and, a non-title knockout loss to Lucas Matthysse notwithstanding, has held it ever since. He took a clear decision from the previously unbeaten Dierry Jean in a title defense this January and looked very good in the process.

    Santana is staring down the barrel of the opportunity of his lifetime. The Puerto Rican fighter is well-known in some New York boxing circles, but he has never achieved much mainstream success. He’s a pretty significant underdog, but a win here would make his career.

    Never say never in boxing, even when the odds seem long.

    This is your complete preview and prediction of Peterson vs. Santana for the IBF Junior Welterweight Championship.

Tale of the Tape

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    All stats and information per Boxrec.com.

     Lamont PetersonEdgar Santana
    Record32-2-1, 16 KO29-4, 20 KO
    Age3035
    Height5'9"5'9"
    Weight139.5 (last fight)140 (last fight)
    Reach72"68.5"
    StanceOrthodoxOrthodox
    HometownWashington, District of ColumbiaManati, Puerto Rico
    Rounds230143
    Last FightUD 12 Dierry John (1/25/14)KO 1 Michael Clark (11/22/13)

Main Storylines

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Peterson hopes to be on the path toward a significant fight later in the year or early in 2015, but first he needs to get by a little-known challenger on Saturday night. A letdown would be devastating, and it would torpedo any chance of a unification bout with Danny Garcia, who appears in the main event of the same card.

    The 30-year-old from the nation’s capital has won four of his last five fights—the lone loss was a blowout against Matthysse last year in Atlantic City—to position himself back near the top of the 140-pound division.

    Peterson is a rags-to-riches story, having used boxing as a path out of homelessness. He’s frequently mentioned as a possible unification foe for Garcia—who stepped in and stopped Khan when Peterson was forced from a lucrative rematch after testing positive for synthetic testosterone—but can’t afford a hiccup here.

    Santana was once considered a prospect, but he isn’t very well-known outside of New York boxing circles. He has a pretty solid record as a professional, but his resume features few names that many fans would recognize.

    During his rise through the New York ranks, Santana fell in with the wrong crowd. He was arrested in 2008 as part of an international cocaine-trafficking ring. The arrest put a big wrench in his career—he had just scored a career-best win over Josesito Lopez and had a date reserved on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights—and he served four months in Rikers Island before his release.

    Santana returned to the ring after a three-year absence—he gave up boxing—and has a 6-1 record since. This fight represents an opportunity for him to make good and fulfill the dream of a once-promising career.

Strengths

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    Peterson is a world-class boxer, and he isn’t the kind of fighter to take any fight or opportunity for granted. That just isn’t in the DNA of a fighter who came off the streets as a child to become a world champion.

    His ample experience fighting at or near the highest levels of boxing certainly helps him remain grounded, and he relies on a long, stiff jab and good movement to control the distance of the fight.

    Peterson moves around the ring well, and while he’s most comfortable boxing at distance, he doesn’t shy away from fighting on the inside when required.

    Santana is an extremely resilient fighter who has done much to resurrect a once-promising career that was nearly ended by a few poor decisions.

    He has good—not great—power on his punches and understands that he has the opportunity of a lifetime staring him dead in the face. It's probably his one and only shot.

    Santana is a guy who likes to engage and fight. He has the power to make any fight interesting, and he’s highly motivated. His opponent certainly has more to lose, but Santana has more to gain, and that often has a way of manifesting itself in a fight.

Weaknesses

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Peterson has a bad habit of taking a few rounds to get into his rhythm. Most feel that won't be a problem against a fighter on Santana’s level, but it has been problematic for him in the past.

    Matthysse is obviously a murderous puncher, but Peterson has been down early in other fights as well. His chin is generally regarded as solid, and he has shown the ability to shake off knockdowns and rally back, but he can be hurt.

    Peterson is an excellent boxer, and sometimes it’s hard to understand why he gets drawn into engaging on the inside, which doesn’t favor his strengths. These decisions make his fights more exciting, yes, but they aren’t always the best strategic choices.

    Santana has precisely one win over a recognizable opponent—Josesito Lopez in 2008—and that was more than six years ago.

    It’s hard to tell whether or not his skills, including good power and toughness, are a function of his talent or a level of opposition that doesn’t come close to being world-class.

    Santana has been beaten by guys whom you’d expect a world-title challenger to defeat with ease, and that raises some significant questions about his readiness for this type of challenge.

Lamont Peterson Will Win If...

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Peterson is a smart, slick outside fighter, and he would do well to avoid taking unnecessary risks against a hungry, desperate opponent. He has shown a tendency to struggle early in bouts, and he doesn’t want to give Santana any momentum or added confidence.

    The 30-year-old probably wins this fight on paper 100 times out of 100, and he possesses a clear advantage in the talent, class and experience departments.

    Peterson should use his jab as a range-finding weapon, popping Santana on his way in to deter him by raising the costs of getting on the inside. That punch will set up his foe—who isn’t the fastest or most defensively talented fighter—for his power shots and put him on the defensive.

    Once he’s there, Peterson should press the action, and that should be enough to get him a comfortable decision or late-stoppage victory.

Edgar Santana Will Win If...

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    There is a clear gap in terms of pure boxing ability between Peterson and Santana, so if the latter hopes to win, he’s going to need to make the fight ugly and get off to a fast start.

    Santana has good punching power, and Peterson has demonstrated a propensity to get hurt and even dropped early in fights. For the Puerto Rican underdog to score a pretty substantial upset, he’d probably be smart to attack Peterson and try to get to him before he gets settled.

    The longer the fight goes on, the better chance Peterson will have of figuring out Santana’s style and picking him off from the outside, and that would be game over.

    Santana needs this fight to take place on the inside, but to get there he’ll have to find his way past Peterson’s long, stiff jab. And that's going to have a price.

    If he’s able to get there, Santana could force Peterson into taking more risks than he should, and that could give him a chance at winning the fight.

And the Winner Will Be...

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    Santana is a tough guy, and you can fully expect that he will come to fight and give it his all on Saturday night at the Barclays Center.

    This is his one and likely only opportunity at a world championship, and he won’t go down without a fight.

    But he will go down.

    Peterson is just too slick, experienced and good to suffer a letdown with so much riding on this fight.

    Santana will come out in the early rounds trying to attack and make sure that Peterson knows he’s there for a fight and not a walkover. But once Peterson gets his timing down, this will turn into a boxing clinic by the champion.

    The gulf in class is just too much to overlook, even if some feel that the New York fighter is the livest underdog of a pretty weak overall crop.

    Peterson wins this fight by a pretty wide unanimous decision, using his jab, footwork and speed to confound a gamebut overmatchedchallenger.

    Prediction: Peterson UD 12 Santana (117-111)