So... Lamont Peterson is a huge underdog against Amir Khan this weekend. People will cite Amir Khan's speed (both feet and hands) as his advantages for victory and his athleticism and still others are enamored with his charisma and superstar appeal. However, I am one to stand up for Lamont Peterson as not just a "tough cookie", but with a legitimate chance at an upset. I am also a DC native, so that might be a small factor but I've seen some real evolution in Lamont's game. Here's the basic breakdown:
Khan has extremely fast hands. They were on display against Marcos Maidana and also against Zab Judah. The opponents did not see the punches coming and he is able to mix up his punches enough so that they do not know where they're coming from. Also, in an interview Rashad Holloway (who is the chief sparring partner of Manny Pacquiao at the Wild Card Gym) said that he felt Amir Khan has faster hands than Pacquiao and Pacquiao had the faster feet. Amir Khan is tall for his weight, he has that long and fast jab, and he has a high volume. He also has power in both hands and is a lot more rugged than people have gave him credit for after the Prescott loss. His going 12 rounds with Maidana and daring Maidana to hit him on the ropes speaks to his heart and warrior mentality. Khan is tall, rangy, long, and fast as hell. He's a tough nut to crack for anyone.
Peterson first jumped on the World scene in a Unanimous Decision against Timothy Bradley in the December of 2009. Bradley was on the rise and Peterson was hoping to meet him at this crossroads and take away his glory and his belts. Peterson lost a clear victory, and despite what people say about his "being game" in that fight, in all honesty I felt Peterson was visibly nervous and tentative in the fight. Also, he admitted to have thrown his game plan out the door when he was hurt by the right hands in the 1st and 2nd round, and Timothy Bradley beat him to the punch almost every time. Also, with every body shot Peterson landed Bradley returned 2 or 3. I did not score a close round at all for Peterson. To add, Peterson used to have 20-30 second lulls when he didn't throw punches at all and just seemed tentative at the elite level. However, then came the Victor Ortiz fight. Ortiz had his way with Peterson early and scored two knockdowns on him in a 10 round fight. A real gimme right? Then Ortiz had flashes of Maidana and ran away the rest of the fight. As that happened Peterson stepped up to the plate and battered and outboxed Ortiz the remaining rounds. Peterson sort of found his "voice" that fight and in the title shot eliminator against Victor Cayo he had his coming out party:
He was able to up his volume, up his aggression, his defense was in place, and he went HARD to the body and had thudding shots to the head (left hooks and overhand rights). Lamont's thudding power in my opinion is a testament to his work on the heavybag and the "punch shield:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o_xtGhbCSo 3:48 on the video.
What I truly liked was when Lamont gauged Cayo's timing, he was able to shoulder roll the punch and come back HARD with a right hook to the chest. His commitment to the body, his defense, and his increasing volume in fights as well as speed could smell upset against Amir Khan.
People still might cry "speed kills" in this matchup and that's the end all and be all of boxing. However, as we witnessed in the last Pacquiao fight: timing nullifies speed. Peterson is the more skilled boxer between the two and Peterson has fewer holes and weaknesses than Khan. Here's another breakdown:
Hand Speed: A+
Foot Speed: A (though he has happy feet sometimes, and runs without boxing)
Ring Generalship: B
Ring IQ/Ability to Adapt: C, He never really had an answer for Maidana's uppercut, and sitting on the ropes with the middle open between his gloves and asking for more was not adapting.
Countering Ability: B, Not the best and not the worst. His hand speed helps in this area.
Body Punching: A, However, it's under utilized. He was able to drop Maidana in the first round. He does not commit to the body so that he has A ability, but a C or D when seen how it's used across a fight.
Corner/Trainer: A+, Freddie Roach, the general. He makes great game plans and gives good advice in between rounds. He's also top at conditioning athletes in training camp.
Hand Speed: B+
Foot Speed: B
Ring Generalship: B+
Ring IQ/Ability to Adapt: B+, He's sometimes slower to adapt, but he does eventually (citing the Ortiz fight and the Cayo fight).
Countering Ability: A-, He uses his shoulder roll when he gauges his opponent's timing. He's sharp and can find holes in an opponent's armor.
Body Punching: A, He has thudding body punches and he always commits to it every time.
Corner/Trainer: B+, Barry Hunter. Seems like he knows what he's doing. I'm not completely bought on him yet, but Lamont is improving in every fight so this could change my opinion.
As we see, if people put too much weight on Amir Khan's "hand speed and athleticism" and/or flashier style and "wow" factor than yes it looks like Khan will dominate. But Lamont Peterson has the ring IQ and fundamentals to break down Khan's style. Khan has a tendency to run and not box. He has holes in his defense (the uppercut) and he has problems adapting sometimes. I feel because of those factors, Peterson has a REAL chance of picking Khan apart and making Khan look bad in the championship rounds.
Anyone want to bet/wager crow on this one?