Lamont Peterson faces unbeaten Dierry Jean in defense of his title
By Jim Slater ,AFP
January 25, 2014, 12:03 am TWN
WASHINGTON -- Lamont Peterson, trying to bounce back after being stopped for the first time in his career, defends his International Boxing Federation light welterweight title Saturday against unbeaten Canadian Dierry Jean.
A day after his 30th birthday, Peterson will try to put his career back on track in his hometown after being stopped in the third round last May by Argentina's Lucas Matthysse.
While Peterson's title was not at stake, his reputation took a big hit, with Matthysse fighting, and falling, to undefeated American Danny Garcia, the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association champion, last September.
Still, Peterson, 31-2 with one draw and 16 knockouts, refuses to consider his bout with Jean a must-win affair.
"I don't have any pressure. I don't feel like it's a must-win fight," he said. "I don't put that stress on myself. I love boxing. I'm going out there to have fun."
Haitian-born Jean, 25-0 with 17 knockouts, hopes to cause Peterson flashbacks of his most recent failure.
"I'm going to put the pressure on him," Jean said. I want to hit him in the beginning, remind him of the last knockout he had, get him back on his toes, careful."
"In his mind I think he's not 100 percent OK so I think it's going to be a great opportunity to hurt him again. He might have another nightmare like last time."
Peterson says he has put the Matthysse loss behind him.
"You just have to forget it. It's boxing," said Peterson. "In basketball sometimes they shoot an airball from the free throw line even though they make 90 percent of them. It happens.
"You just have to pick yourself up and move on."
Jean says he is in the best shape of his career for his first world title fight and dismissed the champion's chin as only "so-so," confident he can connect there with a stunning punch or two.
"I have the power. I have the speed. I have the chin," Jean said. "I can take advantage of his chin."
Peterson, who grew up homeless on the streets of the U.S. capital, said being at home will not be a distraction.
"You can only have distractions if you allow it," Peterson said. "My family knows I'm here, but I'm not here. They let me do my own thing. They know how serious this is.
"It's going to be a good challenge. He's got good speed and power. He's a good fighter."