In the capital city of the richest empire the world has ever known, Lamont Peterson grew up in desperate poverty. The Washington D.C. native was often homeless as a child. Along with his younger brother, Anthony, he was originally drawn to trainer Barry Hunter’s boxing gym simply because it was a place to get out of the cold.
Peterson’s life story is a credit to what uplifting potential of boxing. The hungry boy would grow to become a world-class, elite athlete as a man. Before he reached 18, he was already a veteran of international amateur competition.
For most of the last decade, Peterson has been one of the sport’s top contenders, at first 140 and then 147 pounds. He has held alphabet-soup titles in both divisions. He has lost just three times–Timothy Bradley beat him by wide margins in 2009. Lucas Matthysse battered him in 2013, stopping him in just three rounds. In 2015, he lost a majority decision to Danny Garcia that I thought he should have won.
Peterson has always come back strong from his defeats. His signature win came in 2011, when he edged Amir Khan by split decision in a rough, hard-fought battle. He also has wins over Dierry Jean, Kendall Holt and Felix Diaz.
Most fans are viewing him as a mere stepping stone for Errol Spence Jr. this weekend, when the two face off in Brooklyn. It’s understandable. Spence is undefeated and among the hottest young fighters in the sport. At 33, Peterson has reached the point in his career where most view him as a gatekeeper.
But he might just be the toughest test of Spence’s career. Kell Brook, who Spence knocked out last year, was coming off a brutal eye injury against middleweight wrecking machine Gennady Golovkin. Peterson looked to be still in his prime when he defeated David Avanesyan last year.