At the start of his fight Friday night against David Avanesyan, much of the reaction on Twitter focused around the welterweight contender’s sartorial choice. In an era when baggy, knee-length shorts have become standard for athletes and civilians alike, Peterson went with a leggy, throwback look. Peterson entered the ring wearing trunks that looked like they were borrowed from a 60-year-old, high school football coach.
But as the fight commenced, the attention quickly shifted to Peterson’s performance. One of the better super lightweights of the past half decade, the Washington D.C. native was returning to action after a 14-month layoff. Fighting a determined opponent in Avanesyan, Peterson was able to maintain a quick pace over 12 rounds of rugged, back-and-forth action, coming away with a hard-fought but clear unanimous decision.
The victory makes Peterson the “regular” WBA world champion. Prior readers of this column may be aware of the fact that I hold WBA “regular” titles in utter contempt. Even in the world of alphabet-soup absurdity, they are a special insult to the sport’s integrity, no more authentic than a ring found inside a box of crackerjacks.
To his credit, Peterson stated that he would not consider himself a champion after defeating Avenasyan, but instead merely the No. 1 contender to the winner of the March 4 clash between WBC title-holder Danny Garcia and WBA “super” champion Keith Thurman.
I am predicting that Thurman will win that fight, but if I am wrong and Garcia prevails, a rematch with Peterson will be very intriguing. I actually thought Peterson deserved to get the victory when they fought in April 2014, although he ultimately has only himself to blaim for the verdict, given how passive he was in the early rounds.
In a perfect world, the winner of Thurman and Garcia would fight the winner of Errol Spence Jr. vs. Kell Brook, who meet for Brook’s IBF belt on May 20. That would leave one man with three belts, and depending upon what Manny Pacquiao does in the meantime, the last man standing out of Garcia, Thurman, Brook and Spence might even deserve to be viewed as the true welterweight champion of the world.