Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Peterson Retains Title, Jean Solidifies Status As Top Contender

When undefeated Jr. Welterweight contender Dierry Jean entered the ring to challenge IBF Jr. Welterweight world champion Lamont Peterson on January 25th in Peterson’s hometown of Washington D.C. there may have been some who considered the Haitian born Canadian based contender a favorite to win the title. The basis of that may have been largely based on Peterson’s knockout loss in his last fight at the hands of top contender Lucas Matthysse in May of last year in what was a non-title fight. The punching power of Matthysse was too much for Peterson on that night as he was dropped three times before the fight was stopped in round three. It was the first knockout loss for Peterson in his career.

An argument could be made by some that, despite Peterson’s knockout loss he was after all the more experienced of the two fighters. Jean who although earning a number one ranking in the International Boxing Federation’s (IBF) and also being recognized as a number one contender by the World Boxing Council (WBC) for a period of time had not been significantly tested. This observer has been on record in stating that I disagreed with those who were of the opinion that Dierry Jean had not been tested in his career prior to his title shot against Peterson. 

As I have mentioned in previous columns in covering Dierry Jean’s last two fights prior to his encounter with Peterson against Juan Jesus Rivera and Cleotis Pendarvis ; Jean had been tested against fighters such as Lanardo Tyner, Francisco Lorenzo, and Ivan Cano. Following his knockout win over Cleotis Pendarvis, this observer said that it was my belief that Jean was ready to take on the elite of the Jr. Welterweight division. Jean faced a fighter in Peterson who has proven to be an elite player in the division having faced many of the best the division has to offer including current Welterweight world champion Timothy Bradley, Kendall Holt, Amir Khan and, the aforementioned Lucas Matthysse among others.  This fight was Dierry Jean’s first opportunity on the elite level not just in the Jr. Welterweight division, but of the elite level of the sport, where discussions regarding the world’s best pound for pound fighters are commonplace. 

The fight began at a tactical pace with both fighters being able to have periods of effectiveness in rounds that were not necessarily easy to score. It was apparent very early on that there may have been a healthy difference of opinion as to the scoring of some of the rounds. Lamont Peterson’s lateral movement complimented his jab and combination punching as he was the more active of the two fighters for much of the fight. Dierry Jean however, seemed to have an edge in terms of power. When he was able to let his hands go, particularly during periods where he was able to get off first, he kept Peterson somewhat defensive when he was able to land his right hand to set off spurts of offense. Although both fighters had periods of success throughout this fight, Peterson was the fighter who was able to dictate the pace.

Gradually as the fight progressed, Peterson’s quick hands and combination punching took control. Peterson had a well-balanced attack as the fight went on in landing to the body and head of Jean. Peterson’s lateral movement was also a focal point during this fight as he was able to pick his spots by being aggressive and consistently backing Jean up while at the same time using his lateral movement to deflect much of Jean’s offense. Simply put Lamont Peterson’s Boxing ability in being able to outwork Dierry Jean while being solid defensively was the story in this fight. At the end of the twelve round championship bout, I had Peterson winning eight rounds to four for a score of 116-112.

Although Peterson was able to take control particularly in the second half of this fight, Dierry Jean did give a good account himself as he was competitive throughout. The main difference in this fight at least in my mind was Peterson’s combination punching being able to carry the pace, while Jean although able to be effective in spurts, was not able to land combinations consistently nor was he able to stop Peterson’s pressure as the fight went on. Peterson clearly showed in this fight that his outing against Lucas Matthysse could be considered a bad night at the office as he showed no ill effects in this fight against a dangerous opponent in Jean. An argument could be made that this twelve round decision win for Peterson was perhaps one of the best performances of his career, particularly after coming off of what was a devastating knockout loss against Matthysse.

 Despite suffering the first loss of his career Dierry Jean proved that he is a player in the Jr. Welterweight division. Jean was not disgraced in his fight and one might argue that the loss to Peterson may benefit him in the long-term. After all, not every fighter who becomes a world champion does so without suffering in defeat along the way. This could be looked at as a setback, but more importantly as a learning experience for a potential future world champion. A good example would be Lamont Peterson who lost to Timothy Bradley in his first attempt at a world championship.  Since that fight Peterson has become not only a world champion, but also one of the best fighters in the world.   Whether Dierry Jean can also rebound to potentially become a world champion remains to be seen. It will be interesting to see who Jean will fight next in the talent deep Jr. Welterweight division, but it would not surprise this observer to see him put in against another top contender perhaps the likes of Selcuk Aydin or maybe someone like former longtime Lightweight world champion Paul Spadafora who recently also suffered his first defeat. Both of these fighters present an interesting fight for Jean that will generate interest. 
As for Lamont Peterson, it is logical to assume that a potential unification fight with WBC/WBA Jr. Welterweight world champion Danny Garcia could well be looming on the horizon. If a fight with Garcia is not in Peterson’s immediate future, the most logical opponent at least in this observer’s eyes would be a rematch with Lucas Matthysse. Matthysse, who lost a hard fought battle against Danny Garcia last September is likely looking for a marquee fight to get back in the mix for a potential rematch with Garcia.

A rematch between Matthysse and Peterson does however, present it’s own intriguing storyline. The obvious storyline of whether or not Peterson can avenge his knockout loss to Matthysse. If a rematch between the two can be made with the winner likely to face Danny Garcia, it will likely present a very lucrative situation that can benefit all three fighters. One might argue that a potential total unification of the Jr. Welterweight division in the form of a four-man box off between Peterson, Matthysse, Danny Garcia, and WBO champion Ruslan Provodnikov would be more lucrative. Such a scenario however, seems unlikely in my eyes due to the current political landscape of the sport with rival promoters and networks seemingly at a stand off which may prevent the concept of total unification from taking place. 

Nevertheless as has been the case for many years the Jr. Welterweight division remains one of the most talent rich and competitive weight classes in the entire sport. Regardless which scenario transpires all will provide excitement and enjoyment for the Boxing world. 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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