Opening Bell: Peterson appreciation
OXON HILL, Md. -- Lamont Peterson's boxing story is now apparently complete after he announced his retirement Sunday night in the MGM National Harbor ring, in front of a crowd just outside of his beloved hometown of Washington and a national television audience.
He had given them yet another exciting fight, this one so good it is very clearly the early leader for fight-of-the-year honors.
Maybe the retirement won't last because this is, after all, boxing, and it was said in the emotional immediate aftermath of a hellacious battle with fellow former junior welterweight world titleholder Sergey Lipinets. Peterson fought him toe-to-toe for 10 brutally punishing rounds in a close fight before the younger, stronger Lipinets (15-1, 11 KOs), 29, finished breaking him down.
He knocked Peterson down in the 10th round and as Peterson, who always has shown enormous heart, was unsteadily getting to his feet, trainer and father figure Barry Hunter threw in the towel, entered the ring and hugged Peterson.
It was over and so too, seemingly, was Peterson's excellent career. If this was it, Peterson went out like the warrior he has always been.
Fourteen months ago, Hunter stopped Peterson's previous fight in the corner one second into the eighth round to save him from more of a beating from welterweight world titleholder Errol Spence Jr. After that fight, Peterson said he would consider retirement but gave it another go. Now, with Peterson 35 and having taken huge punishment in his past two fights, it really does seem over.
Peterson's story is well known to boxing fans. He and younger brother Anthony Peterson, a junior welterweight who fought to a draw with Argenis Mendez on the undercard, came from a broken home in a rough part of D.C. and were living on the streets as children. They resorted to pickpocketing and anything else they needed to do for food and shelter before Hunter came to their rescue.
He took the boys in, made them part of his family and taught them to box. They turned pro in 2004 after strong amateur careers, and Lamont went on to have a professional career in which he won world titles at junior welterweight and welterweight.
Peterson (35-5-1, 17 KOs) is not going to make the International Boxing Hall of Fame, but he had a tremendous career that he should be proud of and that we should all appreciate.
He had the one hiccup of a positive drug test for elevated levels of testosterone that caused a 2012 rematch with Amir Khan to be canceled, but that should not overshadow the rest of his career.
He won two belts. He was in many crowd-pleasing fights. He fought everyone (Spence, Lipinets, Felix Diaz, Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Kendall Holt, Khan, Victor Ortiz and Timothy Bradley Jr.). He never ducked a tough fight. He made several million dollars. He treated fans and media with respect. And he went out with his head held high after another terrific fight.
In an unexpectedly wild and exciting fight, heavyweights Kubrat Pulev and Bogdan Dinu put on a helluva show in the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN main event Saturday night in Costa Mesa, California, as Pulev made his American debut a memorable one and retained his position as one of unified titleholder Anthony Joshua's mandatory challengers with a seventh-round knockout.
But it was no easy task as Romania's Dinu (18-2, 14 KOs), 32, came to fight and nearly pulled the upset before losing his second in a row following a knockout loss to Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller in November. In his first fight since signing a co-promotional deal with Top Rank in December, Pulev (27-1, 14 KOs), 37, of Bulgaria, had some issues with Dinu, whom he had beaten in the 2007 amateur world championships.
Although the fight began slowly, it heated up into a thriller in the fourth round, when Dinu creamed Pulev with a big right hand that rocked him and opened a severe cut over his left eye. Pulev knew the referee could stop the fight at any time because of the severity of the wound, which was a bloody mess, and really stepped on the gas in an effort to end the fight. They traded a lot of heavy shots before Pulev dropped Dinu with a combination in the seventh round, but was docked one point for landing a punch when he was already on the mat. Pulev quickly dropped him again with a right hand and then for a third time with a right hand -- which could have been ruled a foul because it was borderline behind the head -- as referee Raul Caiz Sr. stopped it at 2 minutes, 40 seconds. At the time of the KO, two judges had it 57-57 and one had Pulev ahead 58-56.
The next step: Pulev, who suffered a hard KO loss to then-champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, won't get a shot at Joshua's belt next, but when the cut heals he is likely to return in the fall, with the title shot probably not likely until at least next spring. Pulev said he wants to fight Oscar Rivas, who defeated Pulev in the 2008 Olympics and is also with Top Rank.
"Rivas won that fight in a decision, and it still torments me," Pulev said. "I want that fight bad and am asking Top Rank to do it. I saw what Rivas did to [Bryant] Jennings [in a 12th-round knockout win in January], but Rivas will pay the price for doing what he did to me at the Olympics."
Fights you might have missed
Saturday in Costa Mesa, California
Featherweight Jessie Magdaleno (26-1, 18 KOs) W10 Rico Ramos (30-6, 14 KOs), scores: 99-91, 98-92, 97-93.
In a fight between former junior featherweight world titleholders, Magdaleno easily outboxed Ramos, 31, of Pico Rivera, California, who did basically nothing but plod forward and not throw punches for 10 rounds in a sleep-inducing bout that looked solid on paper but turned out to be anything but. Magdaleno didn't look great in the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN co-feature, but he was at least aggressive and rebounded from losing his belt by 11th-round knockout to Isaac Dogboe 11 months ago, followed by this move up in weight. Ramos' six-fight winning streak ended meekly.
Saturday in London
Flyweight Charlie Edwards (15-1, 6 KOs) W12 Angel Moreno (19-3-2, 6 KOs), retains a world title, scores: 120-107 (three times).
Edwards, 26, of England, scored a big upset to take a 112-pound title from Cristofer Rosales in December and made his first defense in shutout fashion against the wild-swinging Moreno, 35, of Spain. Edwards was credited with a knockdown midway through the eighth round when a right hand forced Moreno to touch his glove to the mat even though Moreno argued with referee Victor Loughlin that he had slipped. Knockdown or not, Edwards won every round.
Light heavyweight Joshua Buatsi (10-0, 8 KOs) TKO3 Liam Conroy (16-4-1, 8 KOs), wins vacant British title.
Blue-chip prospect Buatsi, 26, a 2016 British Olympian, had scored three first-round knockouts in a row, but Conroy, 26, took him into the third round before falling at the heavy hands of Buatsi, who could soon become a serious player at 175 pounds. He hurt Conroy with a right hand and dropped him with a left midway through the third round. Moments later, Buatsi landed a huge right hand to the middle of Conroy's face to drop him face first. He beat the count but was in no shape to go on and referee Phil Edwards waved it off at 1:53.
Saturday in Metepec, Mexico
Flyweight Julio Cesar "Rey" Martinez (14-1, 11 KOs) KO5 Andrew Selby (11-1, 6 KOs), title eliminator.
In an action fight with a raucous crowd, Martinez, 24, of Mexico, opened a cut over Selby's left eye with an accidental head-butt in the third round. In the fifth round, Martinez caught Wales native Selby, 30 and the younger brother of former featherweight world titlist Lee Selby, with a left hand to the body that sent Selby to all fours. He got to one knee, but referee Hector Afu counted him out at 57 seconds, giving Martinez an upset victory and earning him a mandatory shot at world titleholder Charlie Edwards.
Friday in San Francisco de Mostazal, Chile
Junior bantamweight Andrew Moloney (19-0, 12 KOs) TKO8 Miguel Gonzalez (29-2, 6 KOs), Title eliminator.
Australia's Moloney, 28, hit the road to fight Gonzalez, 29, in his home country and earned a mandatory title shot against England's Khalid Yafai (25-0, 15 KOs). Referee Romina Arroyo blew a call in the sixth round, giving Gonzalez credit for a knockdown when Moloney slipped and no punch landed. In the eighth round, Moloney made it academic as he flattened Gonzalez with a left hook. He beat the count but was stumbling and Arroyo stopped the fight, which Gonzalez led on two scorecards (68-64 and 67-65) with the third 66-66 at the time of the knockout.