Peterson back up to speed against Holt
Junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson, out of the ring for 14 months because of a positive drug test, looked rusty on Friday night. He started very slowly and was getting tagged by Kendall Holt's powerful right hands. But, boy, oh boy, did Peterson get on track and finish fast.
He dropped Holt twice and eventually stopped him with a hail of shots for an eighth-round knockout to retain his 140-pound world title before a crowd of about 3,500 at the DC Armory, setting himself up for big business.
"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. "I have to look at the tape [to see how I performed]. I always give myself a bad grade when I fight. Right now, I got the win, so I'll say I did a good job."
Peterson was making the first defence of the title he won in December 2011, also in Washington, when he won a controversial split decision against Amir Khan in a tremendous fight.
But about 10 days before a Khan rematch was supposed to take place in May, Peterson failed a random drug test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association - a protocol that Peterson had asked for and Khan agreed to. Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone, which he claimed was for therapeutic reasons, although he never disclosed it to any commission.
But the 29-year-old Peterson (31-1-1, 16 KOs) put that all behind him against Holt, a former titleholder who dropped to 3-4 in his past seven fights.
Although Holt (28-6, 16 KOs), 31, had to lose eight pounds in two days to make the 140-pound limit at Thursday's weigh-in, he looked sharp and strong in the early going. While Peterson laid back and did very little, Holt, having been out of the ring for 11 months mainly because of right shoulder surgery, came out aggressively. He has great one-punch power and landed a tremendous right hand in the opening round, but Peterson barely flinched.
"I felt one of his shots; it hit me right on the button," Peterson said. "I didn't feel anything. Once I knew where to put my guards, I felt more comfortable in there and started coming forward."
Peterson looked very flat for the first three-plus rounds. He was backing up and getting hit with solid right hands. But he suddenly came alive in the fourth. Peterson began to back Holt up and then landed a right hand that dropped the challenger. Holt was up at eight, and Peterson went after him. He hurt Holt as the round was ending with a left and a right at the bell.
Peterson continued to hurt Holt in the fifth round, forcing him to grab and try to survive, causing referee Tony Weeks to warn him for holding. Peterson dominated the sixth round, teeing off on a weary Holt almost at will. He had Holt backing into the ropes and covering up. Peterson never relented, finishing the round with something like a 17-punch combination that had Holt nearly out on his feet.
With the crowd chanting "D.C.! D.C.! D.C.!" Peterson tried to finish Holt, whose right eye was swelling. He drove Holt into the ropes and pounded his body to finish the seventh round. In the eighth, Holt looked like he had very little left when Peterson clocked him with two right hands, stunning him. Peterson opened up with a flurry of blows, and Holt was defenceless, forcing Weeks to step in to stop the crowd-pleasing fight at 1 minute, 42 seconds.
"I knew I could put it together and get him out of there," Peterson said. "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 [him]. I knew I could finish it. I just couldn't let up."
This article originally appeared on ESPN.com