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Friday, January 4, 2013
Lamont Peterson's title defense set

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson will return to the ring for the first time in 14 months to make his mandatory defense against former titleholder Kendall Holt on Feb. 22 in the main event of an ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" card, promoter Gary Shaw told ESPN.com.

The fight, agreed to on Friday, will take place at the Washington, D.C., Armory in Peterson's hometown. ESPN confirmed the fight will take place.

Shaw, Holt's promoter, won an IBF purse bid last month for the right to promote the fight with an offer of $50,000. But he said he is partnering with Barry Hunter, Peterson's manager/trainer and father figure, to put the fight on in Washington.

Under the terms of the bid, Peterson would earn $37,500 (75 percent of the winning bid), with Holt slated to make $12,500 (the remaining 25 percent), but Shaw said both fighters would make more.

"I've been talking to Barry all along trying to work this out. We went to a purse bid so we could protect the fight and make sure we had time to get it all worked out," Shaw said. "Barry and I are partners and we're gonna split up the money and make our own deals with the fighters. Kendall will make more than $12,500 and Lamont will make more than $37,500."

Besides the license fee from ESPN, the fight figures to generate a mid-six-figure gate in Washington, where Peterson drew more than 8,000 fans in December 2011, when he won two world titles from Amir Khan by controversial split decision in an action-packed fight at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs), who will turn 29 on Jan. 24, has not fought since. He was scheduled to face Khan for a seven-figure purse in a rematch on May 19, but tested positive for synthetic testosterone, a banned substance, in a random pre-fight urine test performed by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. During negotiations for the fight, Peterson asked Khan to participate in VADA's strict random testing leading up to the fight.

The positive test forced the rematch with Khan to be canceled and eventually cost Peterson one of his sanctioning organization belts, which was stripped. But the IBF allowed him to keep its version of the 140-pound title and ordered him to face mandatory challenger Zab Judah. But when Judah, a former titlist, elected to take a fight against Danny Garcia, another titleholder in the weight class, Peterson was ordered to face Holt, the next leading available contender.

"I think it's a wonderful fight for Kendall," Shaw said. "These are two fighters who are both going to come to win. I don't think the fight is going to go to a decision. Kendall can really punch. I've always believed he was the biggest puncher in the 140-pound division. And I have a lot of respect for Lamont Peterson. Look what he did to Khan. At the end of the day, he won the fight.

"Stylistically, I think it will be a terrific fight. Neither guy will back down from each other."

Holt (28-5, 16 KOs), 31, of Paterson, N.J., held a version of the junior welterweight title from 2008 to '09. He won it in July 2008 with a violent first-round knockout of Ricardo Torres in a rematch of a Holt loss. After winning a split decision against Demetrius Hopkins in his first defense in December 2008, Holt lost his belt by unanimous decision to Timothy Bradley Jr. in an April 2009 unification fight, even though Holt scored two knockdowns.

Holt is just 3-3 in his past six fights, including the loss to Bradley and a decision loss to Garcia in a title eliminator. But Holt is coming off a strong performance in a second-round knockout of Tim Coleman in March.

The signed contracts for Peterson-Holt were due back to the IBF by Friday, but because Hunter had a death in his family, Shaw said the organization was allowing him until early next week to return a signed contract for the bout.

Hunter could not be reached for comment.