Lamont Peterson says he’s fit and ready for his February 18 fight with WBA “world” welterweight titleholder David Avanesyan, holding a media workout day in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday with trainer Barry Hunter.
Peterson (34-3-1, 17 KO) hasn’t fought since October 2015, when he scraped past Felix Diaz via debated decision, six months after losing a controversial call against Danny Garcia. Now a full-fledged welterweight, Peterson, 33, says he’s not worried about the rust.
“People are going to talk a lot about my layoff but honestly that only affects people who aren’t always in the gym,” he said. “I have been in the gym working hard this entire time. I’ve been working on my craft. I got better and you’ll see on February 18.
“I have no concern about ring rust. It’s not even a thought in my head. I would be shocked if that was a problem for me.”
Trainer Hunter is also not worried about the time away, at least not publicly.
“Sometimes having time off like Lamont had is not a bad thing,” he said. “It gives you space and time to work on your mental game, shore up some things you could be weak at and of course it lets you heal up. It’s served us well and I’m happy with what I see from Lamont so far.”
The former junior welterweight titleholder has respect for Avanesyan (22-1-1, 11 KO), who is coming off of a win against an ancient version of Shane Mosley last May.
“Avanesyan is a pretty good fighter,” Peterson said of his opponent. “He keeps his hands up high, so even though he’s there to be hit, it doesn’t mean I’m going to get good clean shots. It should be a good entertaining fight and a good first step at welterweight for me.”
Joining the star-studded welterweight division will give Peterson a chance to mix with bigger names going forward, should he beat Avanesyan, a prospect that excites the D.C. fighter.
“Big fights are what matters to me. When you’re coming up it’s all about winning a title. Having fought for 12 years, it doesn’t matter to me as much. The way I’m looking at is, if I get this win, then I’m the No. 1 contender for the (WBA ‘super world’) belt.”
The holder of that belt could be Danny Garcia, and Hunter says he’d love to get that rematch for his fighter.
“We want all of the top 147-pounders. I always thought Lamont and Danny Garcia was a fight that warranted a rematch,” he said. “Because it was a great fight that had a little bit of controversy around it. I still would like to see the rematch.”