Lamont Peterson, Amir Khan rematch?
After Washington, D.C.'s Lamont Peterson won two junior welterweight belts in his hometown from England's Amir Khan in an upset split decision on Saturday night -- one tinged with controversy -- both sides immediately talked about a rematch.
"I'm ready for rematch anywhere. I come to D.C., now let's take the fight the U.K. Let's see if he has the same balls as me," a bruised Khan said at the postfight news conference. "A rematch is something I'm looking at. I want it straight away. I want it next fight. I want my two titles back."
"If it were up to me, I'd fight him tomorrow," said Peterson, wearing dark glasses to conceal his swollen face.
And Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya, Khan's promoter, declared, "Golden Boy, Khan and Peterson want the rematch. There will be a rematch."
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Not so fast.
While Peterson will entertain an immediate rematch, it is by no means a guarantee, Barry Hunter, his manager, trainer and father figure, told ESPN.com on Monday.
"I want to look at every option that comes across the table because it's business and it's about Lamont's future and the future for his daughter," Hunter said. "There's no need to go rushing into anything or to be reckless in our decision making. At the press conference, emotions are running high. But when you take a step back and think about the whole picture, there is some serious decision making to be made."
The fight was an enthralling, all-action slugfest that had the near-sellout crowd at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center cheering throughout, but the result was controversial because referee Joe Cooper, a Washington-area official, docked two points from Khan for pushing -- an obscure call that is extraordinarily rare to result in a point deduction, much less two of them. Cooper took one point in the seventh round and another in the 12th round of a very close fight. The deductions provided Peterson with his margin of victory, causing the Khan camp to understandably complain that Cooper's actions unfairly helped the hometown fighter.
Although Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs) and Hunter worked well with Golden Boy during the promotion of the fight, Peterson is a promotional free agent. Golden Boy holds no options on Peterson because, as Khan's mandatory challenger, he did not have to give up any futures.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer spoke to Hunter on Monday and formally offered Peterson a rematch. Schaefer told ESPN.com that he has reserved May 19 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for a rematch and that he had also spoken to HBO, which televised Saturday's fight as part of its contract with Khan. HBO's Kery Davis said Saturday night it was interested in the rematch if the sides wanted to make one.
"I talked to Barry hunter following the fight and he said they wanted to do a rematch," Schaefer said. "So (Monday) I called him again and I made them an offer. He said he would be discussing it with Lamont and get back to me."
Although there was discussion about staging a potential rematch in England at the postfight press conference, Hunter said that was unlikely. As champion, Peterson would have say in the site, Hunter said. Schaefer agreed that England was unlikely, mainly because HBO, whose license fee provides the lion's share of the money, would pay more if the fight was in the U.S. than in England, where Khan's deal with Sky pays far less than HBO.
Hunter confirmed that Schaefer called, but did not want to discuss the offer -- although he said it was for more money than the career-best $650,000 Peterson made Saturday.
"There was a dollar figure, a date and a venue," Hunter said. "Lamont and I are partners. Everything that comes across the table I will discuss with him and I will let him know that we had that conversation."
But Hunter said Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) is not the only fighter of interest to them.
"Lamont said it best. A rematch has to make business sense. Don't forget -- Bradley is out there, too. The good thing is we do have options," said Hunter, referring to titleholder Timothy Bradley Jr., who outpointed Peterson in December 2009 to hand him his only defeat.
Hunter said Peterson is interested in avenging the loss. Bradley is promoted by Top Rank's Bob Arum, Golden Boy's archrival and Peterson's former promoter.
Hunter said Arum called him and left a message of congratulations about the victory.
"I've always been a good friend of Bob's and vice versa, so he called to congratulate us, but we haven't had any business discussions yet," Hunter said. "I'm sure we will at some point."
Hunter said Peterson wanted to have some time to enjoy his hard-fought victory before committing to his next fight.
"This young man has come a long, long way and he fought very, very hard to get there," Hunter said. "He's always been humble and cordial even when there were times he wasn't being done right. But he kept his eye on the prize. I think he deserves the time to take in what he has just accomplished."
Schaefer said he expected to be able to conclude a deal with Hunter, but he also said Golden Boy was preparing appeals to the organizations that sanctioned the bout, the IBF and WBA, to ask them to order an immediate rematch because of the controversial point deductions.
"We'll be sending letters to both asking for a rematch," Schaefer said. "Whether it's ordered or not, it's clearly one of those fights that warrants a rematch. Unlike Top Rank likes to do, this doesn't need to marinate. The fans are ready to see it again."
Even if the organizations order an immediate rematch, Hunter said they won't be forced into anything, even if it meant being stripped of the belts.
"That will be something Lamont and I will have to look at," he said. "If it don't make sense to me or Lamont, I don't care what happens. I'm not going to let nobody bully us. I gotta do what is best and right for Lamont Peterson."
Schaefer said he was hopeful the Peterson camp would agree to a deal, although he acknowledged that they had no contractual leverage to force it.
"It's up to Lamont and Barry to do the right thing. They already announced it to the world that they would do a rematch," Schaefer said. "Lamont told Amir in the hospital after the fight that they will do a rematch. We are serious about it.
"I was on the phone all morning. I was able to clear the venue and I communicated that to Barry and made him an offer. I talked to HBO and they would be on board as well. We want to get this done."
Golden Boy and Khan, who have usually been able to call the shots, sure do. But this time it's going to be up to Peterson and Hunter.
Peterson got the fight with Khan the hard way. He was offered about $350,000 to go to England to face Khan in April, but turned it down because he and Hunter didn't like the deal, including the part about being required to give Khan a rematch if he won. Instead, Peterson took a $10,000 title eliminator against Victor Cayo and knocked him out to become Khan's mandatory.
"We took a gamble and it paid off. It led us to Khan," Hunter said. "I guess they overlooked Lamont and brought the fight to D.C., and the rest is history."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.
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