WASHINGTON, D.C. — It was 14 months in the making, but Lamont Peterson made the most of a long wait between fights, knocking out former champion Kendall Holt in the eighth round Friday night to retain his IBF junior welterweight belt.
Peterson started slowly in the ESPN-televised event, giving away the first three rounds to Holt, who was much more aggressive early on. Peterson (31-1-1, 16 KOs) was not offering much resistance, showing a bit of rust as the crowd became restless.
But in the fourth round, Peterson came alive, connecting several times to the head and body of Holt before knocking him down late in the round, the first of two knockdowns on the night.
Peterson, fighting in his hometown for the second fight in a row, began to gain confidence with the partisan crowd of more than 3,000 roaring with his every punch at the ancient D.C. Armory.
Peterson remained in control the rest of the fight, knocking down Holt again in the sixth round following a 17-punch flurry that ended with a left and right to the head.
In the eighth, Peterson got Holt against the ropes and began punishing him with another flurry. Holt (28-6) was not fighting back and referee Tony Weeks finally stopped it at 1:42 of the round.
“I spent a lot of energy trying to get him out, but I just had to settle down and let it come to me,” Peterson said.
Asked when he knew he could win the fight, Peterson said, “I felt one of his shots and it hit me on the button. But I didn’t feel anything, so I knew I could put it together and get him out of there. I just had to be patient and wait for the time.
“The last time I caught him on the ropes I just let my hands go and then stopped. I knew I could finish it. I just couldn’t let up.”.
It was Peterson’s first fight in 14 months, since he upset then-WBA-IBF champion Amir Khan, also in Washington D.C., In December 2011.
Two months before their scheduled rematch in May 2012, Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone, which he said he was taking for chronically low testosterone levels. He was stripped of the WBA junior welterweight belt, which was returned to Khan. But Peterson held on to the IBF belt, which was on the line Saturday.
Asked what was next, Peterson, who recently signed with Golden Boy Promotions, said, “I would like to fight (WBA champion) Danny Garcia. I hope my promoter can make it happen. I still think I am the WBA champ and I want to get the fight to make it happen to show who the real champion is.”.
Holt, 31, has now lost three title fights in a row, the first two coming against undefeated fighters, Timothy Bradley in 2009 and Danny Garcia in 2011.
“Physically I felt fine, I just wasn’t pulling the trigger,” said Holt, who admitted to being eight pounds overweight as late as Tuesday. “Mentally, I felt fine. Emotionally, I felt fine. I just wasn’t pulling the trigger.”.
Afterward, Holt said he had to decide whether to retire or possibly move up to welterweight, saying it was harder and harder to make weight and said he had not eaten in three days prior to the fight, trying to get to 140 pounds, and that drained him physically.
On the undercard, super bantamweight Roman Morales remained undefeated, knocking out Jesus Hernandez at 2:59 of the fifth round to raise his record to 15-0 (8 KOs). It was the first loss in 14 fights for Hernandez.
Morales knocked Hernandez down in the fourth round, then dropped him again in the fifth with a right to the midsection. Hernandez went down on one knee, and was unable to beat the 10-count.