Khan cries robbery as Peterson takes titles
Amir Khan lost his WBA and IBF light welterweight titles in controversial and thrilling fashion after a 12-round war with Lamont Peterson in Washington DC.
Peterson was awarded a split decision in his hometown with two American judges scoring the fight 113-112 in Peterson's favour while the third, from Puerto Rico, awarded it to Khan 115-110 (initially announced 114-111).
However, Khan was furious with referee Joe Cooper who twice docked the Bolton fighter a point for pushing down on the head and chest of the always aggressively onrushing Peterson.
"I was fighting two men in there, Lamont and the referee," bemoaned Khan in a ringside interview after the bout, claiming that he had no option but to push down on Peterson because the American kept coming forward "lower and lower" with the head.
After the fight, Khan's team announced that they will seek clarification from the judges about their scoring of the fight, and also reiterated their unhappiness with the actions of referee Cooper.
Peterson, who was as big as an 8/1 underdog with some bookmakers before the fight, said he was never worried at any point during the bout, and welcomed the prospect of a rematch.
"It's a 12-round fight, not a three-round fight," Peterson said. "I wasn't worried when I was knocked down.
"A lot of people saw me as the underdog. They didn't give me a chance to win. I would definitely give him a rematch. He gave me a shot at the title, so I would definitely give him a rematch."
The actions of referee Cooper will be scrutinised, but his no nonsense approach resulted in an exhilarating fight that flowed with fury and had everybody ringside guessing the outcome until the judges' scorecards were finally revealed.
The Khan camp were obviously confident of victory beforehand as it was a voluntary defence in Peterson's home city – with America's capital enjoying its biggest fight night since Riddick Bowe defended his heavyweight title against Jesse Ferguson way back in 1993.
Khan certainly seemed on course for a victory after a stunning first round when his blistering hand speed had Peterson hurt and on the canvas. The challenger actually went down twice in the first round, but the first drop was ruled a push in what was a marginal call.
Peterson was slow to get into the fight, but came alive in the third when he landed a series of big shots to clearly rock Khan.
He couldn't knock the British fighter down, but he kept coming forward with purpose and immense heart and when he got in close he mixed good work to the body with powerful uppercuts.
Khan tried to fight more from distance but was finding it difficult to wriggle clear of his opponent, which led to the illegal pushing. The Bolton fighter was docked points in the seventh and 12th rounds for his pushing, penalties that ultimately cost him what would otherwise have been a unanimous decision by the judges.
Throughout the fight Khan looked the better boxer, but Peterson looked the better fighter: the American's heart and aggression ultimately swayed the judges just enough to give him the victory against the more technically proficient Khan.
Yahoo! Eurosport actually scored the fight 113-112 in Khan's favour but it was such a tight, thrilling and close fight that it is hard to imagine anyone not wanting to see a rematch.
With both fighters welcoming such a proposal straight after the fight, boxing fans should have Khan-Peterson II to look forward to in 2012.
Before the fight all the talk was about Khan moving up to welterweight to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a superfight next year but such a contest looks a long way away now.
Instead Khan, who was undoubtedly guilty of taking Peterson for granted in this fight, now has no title and unfinished business to take care off in welterweight division after a thrilling night's boxing in Washington DC.