- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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WASHINGTON -- Before Lamont Peterson's junior welterweight title defense against Dierry Jean of Montreal on Saturday night at the DC Armory, the question he was most asked was whether what happened in his last fight would have any impact.
Peterson, of course, was blown away by big-punching Lucas Matthysse in May, getting knocked down twice in the second round and twice more in the third round of the knockout loss, although he remained as one of the 140-pound titleholders because the bout was a nontitle fight contested at 141 pounds, one over the division limit.
Peterson's attitude was simple -- that loss was yesterday's news, that he said he had gotten over it one day and that it was forgotten.
Perhaps it was hard to believe Peterson at the time, but he backed up his words by winning a convincing unanimous decision in a hard-hitting fight with Jean before a hometown crowd of 5,668.
"It was possible" Peterson said of putting the loss to Matthysse behind him. "That day I thought about it and came to an understanding with God and tried to make sense of everything. I made peace with it. I worked harder coming into this fight to make people see that I still got it."
He sure did and the judges rewarded him with scores of 118-111, 116-112 and 115-113. ESPN.com also had it for Peterson, 117-111.
"Everybody try to make a big deal out of one loss," Peterson said. "But if the best fight the best, sometimes it's going to be a knockout. I always prepare myself to win when I step in the ring, but I know you can lose. My whole life it's never been easy, so why would it be easy now?
"I am built to get those setbacks and then you can always come back. That's the way I represent. I think that's my purpose in life."
Jean (25-1, 17 KOs), 31, who is a native of Haiti but has lived in Montreal since he was 10, was in his first word title bout and entered the ring with confidence. He wore a Quebec Nordiques jersey that had the words "And the new" stitched on the back with the No. 1. Although Jean had his moments in the fight, Peterson (32-2-1, 16 KOs), who turned 30 on Friday, was mostly in control throughout his second title defense.
"Maybe it was just a matter of experience," said Jean, speaking French through a translator about the difference in the fight. "I'm definitely leaving with my head held high. I've got all my fans with me and I fought hard fight."
Indeed, a loud group of flag-waiving fans traveled to the fight from Quebec to support Jean, but Peterson was in his hometown, where he has proved to be unbeatable, winning his title here against Amir Khan and also defending it with a knockout of former titleholder Kendall Holt last year.
"If it was up to me, I would never leave," Peterson said of fighting in Washington. "I love my city and they love me."
While the fight began as a jabbing contest in the first round, Peterson landed a clean left hook in the second round that shook Jean, who he rallied to close strong.
His success carried over into the third round when Jean connected with a pair of hard right hands as the action heated up with several toe-to-toe exchanges in which both men landed hard shots and had the crowd roaring.
By the fourth round, Jean's right eye began to swell in what was turning into a brawl.
Peterson took command with a big fifth round in which he landed many clean shots with both hands. With the crowd on its feet, Peterson began to showboat, twirling his hands and then connecting on a retreating Jean.
"I thought I was the better boxer technically and I knew I would probably be physically stronger than him and I'm also a good inside fighter. I wanted to put my body on him and back him up."
Peterson, often a slow starter, said he made a conscious decision to go at Jean early.
"I knew that this is his first title fight and it was the big stage," Peterson said. "Regardless of what he say, I knew he will have nerves. I didn't want him to get confidence so I got on the gas. I didn't want him to have confidence and I knew at the end of the fight I would be in shape."
The crowd broke into a chant of "DC! DC! DC!" in the sixth round as Peterson continued to march forward while Jean -- fighting outside of Quebec for only the third time -- was there to meet him with body shots and hooks. They had some brutal exchanges during the round while on the ropes as they slugged away at each other.
As the fight went along, it was clear that Peterson was in control, but there seemed to always be the feeling that Jean might be able to land something big. It never happened.
Peterson landed 230 of 622 punches (37 percent) while Jean connected on 123 of 556 (22 percent), according to CompuBox.
With the victory secured, Peterson said he wants to move up to welterweight -- but first he wants to be considered the best 140-pounder in the world.
That would mean a showdown with unified titleholder Danny Garcia, the recognized champion of the division. Garcia outpointed Matthysse in September.
"Danny Garcia is supposed to be the No. 1 guy and rightfully so," Peterson said. "I want to be the best at 140 and move up to 147 soon, so the sooner the better (for a fight with Garcia)."
Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer is in position to give Peterson the fight with Garcia as well as other big fights.
"Lamont is a very entertaining fighter and with this win he paved the way for some great potential matchups at 140, be it a rematch with Lucas, a fight with Danny or, of course, if he would decide to move up to welterweight against any of the deep talent pool we have available at 147," said Schaefer, who promotes Peterson, Garcia, Matthysse and many big names at welterweight.
Peterson, however, has eyes for Garcia.
"Styles make fights and I said to people who asked me about it that I always thought Matthysse would be a harder fight for me stylistically than Danny," he said. "I know that my style fits better with Danny than Matthysse."
Lamont Peterson was the busier man during 12 rounds and defended his junior welterweight title with a unanimous decision win over Dierry Jean on Saturday in Washington D.C.