When NBC and Haymon Boxing announced the new “Premier Boxing Champions” series at a news conference last week in New York, the long-awaited fight between junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia and titleholder Lamont Peterson was made official for the second card of the new show: April 11 on NBC in prime time.
The assumption by most was that Garcia would be putting his two belts on the line as well as his status as the lineal 140-pound champion and that Peterson would have his belt also at stake.
But that will not be the case. As it turns out, the fight (which likely will be at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York) will be a nontitle bout at a maximum weight of 143 pounds.
Now I have never been one to care all that much about alphabet belts, but I do think it’s a little disappointing that they are not fighting for the lineal championship at 140, not to mention that if fighters have belts they should defend them when they face elite opponents as has been the case throughout the history of boxing.
We’ve waited for this fight for a while and suffered through their abysmal tuneup fights in August when they both blew out no-hopers in mismatches. The explanation for that card was that the unification fight -- and more important, the battle for 140-pound supremacy -- would be next.
“Yes, we're fighting at 143,” Peterson told ESPN.com. “I'm not sure why but it was brought to me at that weight so I agreed.”
When Peterson (33-2-1, 17 KOs) faced Lucas Matthysse and got knocked out in the third round in May 2013, it was also a nontitle fight because Matthysse didn’t want to risk his mandatory position for a fight with Garcia. So even though Peterson lost to Matthysse, he kept his belt.
Now, Peterson, who looked very good in his next fight last January in a mandatory defense against Dierry Jean, is in a similar situation of having a marquee fight knowing that win or lose he will keep his belt because Garcia (29-0, 17 KOs) prefers to fight him above 140 pounds.
“I'm slowly making my way up to welterweight,” Garcia told ESPN.com. “I feel a lot fresher and stronger. At the end of the day this is a fight the fans want to see no matter what weight.”
That point is well taken, and I agree. But then why not just give up the belts?
This will be Garcia’s second nontitle bout in a row. He has not defended since a questionable majority decision win against Mauricio Herrera last March, after which Garcia said he was having trouble making weight.
So while Garcia-Peterson is still a quality matchup -- and one I have been anxious to see -- it is a little disappointing that it won’t be for all the marbles at 140.