IN an intriguing matchup, former super-lightweight world champion Lamont Peterson fights 2008 Olympic gold medallist Felix Diaz on Saturday night [October 17] at the EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia.
They enter the contest with opposing trajectories. In his last outing, Peterson dropped a close majority decision to unbeaten Danny Garcia in what should have been a title unification bout. Contested at a catchweight of 143lbs (the same limit Peterson-Diaz will be at) neither man had their belts on the line. Despite a spirited effort and plenty of effective work, Peterson was handed his third professional loss.
He was even stripped of his IBF belt before the fight, meaning he no longer holds that important bargaining chip.
Conversely, Diaz has just pulled off his biggest win – a 10 round decision over the dangerous Gabriel Bracero. The Dominican southpaw dropped Bracero in the eighth and ninth rounds to come through his stiffest test to date.
Indeed, the 31-year-old has not been stretched much since turning over in 2009 after a glittering amateur career. However, his time in the unpaid ranks helped him garner significant experience. He made it to the 2004 Olympic Games, only to lose in the first round. Four years later, he won gold. All told he had around 300 amateur contests, winning the vast majority of them.
He has adapted to the pro game well, his aggressive style proving fairly popular with fans. However despite his amateur success his work can be untidy at times, though this can also be attributed to a clash of styles with several of his opponents.
With a solid amateur base, Peterson has become an accomplished professional having fought some of the top names in and around his weight class. Timothy Bradley outpointed him in 2009 before Lamont fought to a draw with Victor Ortiz a year later. He holds a win over Amir Khan, though Argentine slugger Lucas Matthysse decimated inside three rounds in 2013.
Regardless of mixed results, the Washington-born slickster always comes to fight and has never shied from a challenge and in Diaz, he has yet another tough night ahead of him.
Felix [above] has swift upper body movement and moves in and out of range well. He also likes to press the action but can sometimes be overzealous with his straight left hand. In the past he has allowed some of his higher quality work to be smothered by opponents, though Peterson is unlikely to do so.
Lamont has terrific footwork and a stiff jab to boot, electing to box from range as much as he can though the 31-year-old can mix it in close also. At times he leaves his chin exposed, particularly when back-pedalling, and its vulnerabilities have been highlighted several times in the past – most notably by Matthysse, but Bradley and Ortiz both dropped him as well.
The bout is unlikely to be a classic, but there should be plenty of highly technical exchanges on display to please purists. It’s a close fight on paper which may come down to the intangibles and Peterson’s experience could well prove to be the deciding factor. It will be difficult for both, but Peterson should prevail on the cards. Just.