Former junior welterweight titlist Amir Khan should have been in the final stages of preparation for his much-anticipated rematch with titleholder Lamont Peterson on May 19 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Instead, Khan is trying to regroup after the cancellation of the fight in the wake of Peterson's failed drug test.
Khan is disgusted with Peterson.
"He's a fake, and I'd tell him that to his face," Khan told ESPN.com in an interview Wednesday night, a few hours after the fight was canceled. "Lamont Peterson is a fake and a fraud who cheated his way through. Now he will always be remembered as a cheater, just like Antonio Margarito [who was caught trying to fight with loaded hand wraps]. We used to have a lot of respect for Peterson, but now I think he's let all of the boxing fans around the world down for what he's done."
It's hard to blame Khan for his strong feelings. It has been a trying few days for him.
He woke up Monday in Los Angeles ready to head to trainer Freddie Roach's Wild Card Gym in Hollywood for a sparring session when the stuff hit the fan.
"I woke up and had breakfast, and my dad [Shah Khan] said to me, 'You won't believe this. I just got off the phone with [Golden Boy Promotions CEO] Richard [Schaefer],'" Khan said. "Things were running through my mind, and then my father said, 'Peterson tested positive. He failed a drug test.'"
Peterson, the one who requested random blood and urine testing in the lead-up to the fighters' rematch, was popped on March 19 when a collections agent from the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association took a urine sample from him and Khan at a news conference in Los Angeles to promote the bout.
The sample Peterson supplied came back positive for synthetic testosterone, which is a banned substance, on April 12. A test later run on the "B" sample came back positive May 3. The results came to light this week.
"Peterson brought up that we should do random testing," Khan said. "I'm never going to say no to that. I want to keep boxing clean, and they got caught. Maybe they didn't think they'd get caught and maybe they wanted to make sure I'm not on anything."
Khan said this episode has convinced him to require all future opponents to submit to random testing. He said he will follow in the footsteps of Floyd Mayweather, who has insisted on his recent opponents submitting to random testing.
"Boxing is a sport, not a death match," Khan said. "We're not going out there deciding who wins by killing each other. Boxing is an art, a sport. That's why when Floyd Mayweather stresses out about taking tests, this is why. Boxing is a toe-to-toe battle. People can get hurt. People getting away with [taking illegal substances], somebody will get hurt and it will be too late. I want to thank VADA, because without them, we wouldn't have known."
Peterson admitted he had taken testosterone pellets under a doctor's supervision at a clinic in Las Vegas because of an abnormally low testosterone level. Peterson acknowledges taking the testosterone in late October, which was when he was preparing for the first fight with Khan on Dec. 10.
Now Khan, in addition to being upset by the positive test that ruined the rematch, believes the December result should be overturned to a no-contest because Peterson admitted to taking the banned substance prior to the bout, even though he didn't test positive for it in the Washington, D.C., commission tests for the fight.
Khan showed courage to go to Peterson's hometown of Washington to defend his two world title belts against him. The fight was a barnburner, but Khan lost a disputed split decision because of a pair of questionable point deductions.
"Of course the first fight should be declared a no-contest," Khan said. "That was his first world title fight, he was at home, and he would do anything he could to win.
"I hit him with everything in that fight, and he kept getting stronger and stronger. He was recovering so fast after all the punches he was getting caught with. People were saying they had never seen him like that, and now we know why."
Although Peterson admits to taking testosterone before that fight, his team claims it was for a medical condition and not in any way performance enhancing.
Jeff Fried, Peterson's attorney, has forwarded Peterson's medical information and letters from doctors in support of the fighter's stance to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The issue Peterson faces, however, is that even if he had a medical condition that required the use of testosterone, he didn't disclose it to the commission or VADA. Had he done so, he might have been able to secure a medical exemption.
Khan said he doesn't buy that Peterson needed the drug for medical reasons.
"I think that's rubbish, complete rubbish," Khan said. "He would have declared it before the fight if it was medical. He knows what he is doing. If you're taking testosterone, it's to get stronger, be more aggressive. Testosterone is what makes men men. It's like I was fighting two guys that night in Washington, and I still [believe I] beat him."
Khan said he was in prime condition for the rematch. He had flown around the world to get ready. He traveled from England to Los Angeles and went with Roach to the Philippines for several weeks because Roach was also training welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao for his June 9 fight with Timothy Bradley Jr. Khan returned to Los Angeles last week.
"I trained so hard for this guy. I trained to knock him out," Khan said. "I didn't want to win on points. I wanted to knock him out, and now I won't get the chance. All those weeks of preparation, flying to the Philippines, Los Angeles, all the promotional work -- all of it's finished now, and I'm angry."
Like Schaefer, Khan is mad because they weren't notified of the original failed test until Monday, leaving them no time to work out a replacement opponent to save the show, for which thousands of Khan's British countryman had bought tickets and flights.
"It's been a rough week. I'll admit that," Khan said.
He lamented that to make the rematch -- which was difficult -- he gave Peterson 50 percent of all the money even though Khan, because of his British television deal and HBO contract, would have been generating the bulk of the revenue.
"The money isn't the most important thing to me," said Khan, who will lose a $1 million-plus payday for the fight (as will Peterson). "We gave away so much and finally agreed to a 50-50 deal because that is how much I wanted this fight. He was getting his biggest payday ever and he does this?
"I have watched our fight over 50 times. I know exactly what he can do. I would have knocked him out within five rounds. I was looking forward to knocking him out ... so people can't say we need a third fight. I wanted to knock him out once and for all. It killed me inside that this happened, and now I know I don't get the chance to prove it."
Golden Boy is making plans for Khan to fight in July, although a site and opponent need to be lined up. Khan will take a few weeks off and go home to England to relax before returning to Los Angeles for a five-week camp ahead of his new date.
He said he will remain at 140 pounds for at least his next fight and that he would like to fight titleholder Danny Garcia or star Juan Manuel Marquez, who won an interim belt in April.
Even with a new fight in the works, Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) can't take his mind off of what happened with Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs).
If he could spend some private time with Peterson, Khan said he would say to him: "'This is a sport. What was the point? What was the reason to do this? If you're going in there to win, do it straight.' He cheated himself. 'What did you gain?' Deep down inside, he knows he cheated himself. He cheated all of us."