By Harold Bell
On Saturday December 10, 2011 Golden Boy Promotions hitched up its wagon in the West and headed South to Washington, DC. Golden Boy is a boxing production company based in California headed by boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya.
Their travel plans were based on a talented home grown Washington, DC heavyweight boxer who goes by the name of Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell and a talented super light weight boxer by the name of Lamont Peterson.
These two would headline a boxing card of local boxers from two different worlds even though they co-exist in the shadows of the Nation’s Capitol and a section of Maryland that is called the richest black county in America—–Prince George’s. Rich is a word that would never be used in association with Seth and Lamont.
Seth is a former High School All-American linebacker from Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine, Maryland. He took his academic and football skills to the next level, Michigan State University where he was a shining star until an injury cut his NFL dreams short. He never looked back and graduated on time with a degree in Criminal Justice and Security Management.
On Saturday Seth lived up to his advance billing as a potential next “Heavyweight Champion made in America.” His nickname is ‘Mayhem’ and his opponent Timor Ibragimov must have thought that he was in the ring with a tornado named Earth, Wind and Fire. The fight was over in flash with a TKO in the second round. Seth improved his record to 24-0.
The best was yet to come!
Lamont Peterson lived parentless and homeless with his brother Anthony on the streets of Washington D.C. from age 9 to 14. He was a 7-to-1 underdog against Briton’s Amir Khan (26-2, 18 Kos).
HBO analyst and native Washingtonian Bert Sugar is recovering from heart surgery at his home in New York but said, “This kid Amir Khan is on the verge of being one of the best all around pound for pound fighters in the world. If Lamont brings his A game this could be a great fight!’
Lamont not only brought his ‘A Game’ he brought along the entire alphabet from A to Z! He gave the hometown fans something and someone to root for and that has not happen since the boxing era of Sugar Ray Leonard!
On Saturday night Lamont took a page out of the Sugar Ray Leonard vs Thomas Hearns “Play Book.” Sugar Ray had a heart as big as the ring and Lamont shown his was just as big!
In the first couple of rounds Bert Sugar’s words clouded my judgment because Khan had Lamont looking like he was a tune-up for the great Floyd Mayweather!
Khan came out at the opening bell like he wanted to make fast work of Lamont. He was beating him to the punch with one-two combinations before he could blink.
Khan looked like everything that Bert said he was and more. I began to hold my breath just hoping that Lamont had enough to hold on without being embarrassed before his hometown fans of family and friends. The first round ended with Khan knocking down Lamont twice but the referee ruled the first knockdown a slip.
In the second round Khan picked up right where he left off, making Peterson back up with a six-punch combination. Khan seemed to be the faster, bigger, and a cleaner puncher, but Lamont started to get his act together. He was beginning to find his legs and range by jabbing and returning punches on the inside.
In the third round Lamont really came alive he was connecting with flurries to the body and head. This is where “Home Field Advantage” took on a life of its own. The chants of “D.C., D.C.” began to sweep across the Convention Center.
When the dust had settled Lamont had won a controversial majority decision thanks to referee Joe Cooper who deducted two points from Khan in the 7th round for hitting off the break and two more points for pushing off in the 12th and final round.
This was beginning to look like it really could be a “Rags to riches” story, from homeless to World Champion!
Legendary trainer Freddie Roach, Khan’s trainer was highly pissed off about the decision. He said, “The first knockdown was clearer than the second one. He did a terrible job, the referee shouldn’t decide fights, he is not a judge. He made himself a judge tonight.”
Amir spent too much time on the ropes. He gave him too much momentum, but I never thought he was in danger.
He took two points away for nothing and he didn’t give warnings. This is like an amateur referee. A referee at this level of competition shouldn’t make those mistakes. He decided the fight, not the judges. The referee took it out of the judges’ hands, which is bull—t,” Roach said.
The President, Oscar De La Hoya, of Golden Boy Promotions was heard during the press conference explaining the controversial decision saying, “If the first point isn’t taken, Khan retains the title on a draw and if both are ignored, the 25-year-old Khan wins a unanimous decision.”
Khan said, “It was like I was against two people in there. I knew it would be tough in his hometown but this is why boxing hasn’t been in D.C. for 20 years, you get a decision like this.”
Welcome to “Black America,” where we face 2-1 and 3-1 odds everyday!
It is too late to cry the blues now, it was Khan’s idea to fight in Washington after he was invited by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to a White House dinner for prominent Muslim athletes in connection with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Someone in his camp evidently told him that Lamont would make a good “Tune Up” for Mayweather who is on his radar for somewhere in the near future! Man, did they dial a wrong number!
They forgot to include in the equation, Lamont’s heart, his life on the streets and the pride and hunger of being a black man in America.
Lamont said, “Things were always rough for me, recalling to his extraordinary origins. Things have never come easy for me. I was prepared for a backyard fight and that is what it was.”
This fight could have easily gone in either direction and I hope Lamont understands this same scenario could easily take place in Khan’s hometown, remember “What is good for the Goose is good for the gander!”
I found it interesting that everyone seemed to agree on — from Peterson to Khan to Golden Boy Promotions President Oscar De La Hoya — was that an immediate rematch was necessary.
Khan was heard saying while pushing for a return fight in the United Kingdom, “He won the fight tonight and I’m ready for a rematch, straight away, immediately. I came to your hometown. Let’s see if you’ve got the same balls as me.”
Lamont, the newly crown champion, seemed happy to oblige “I would definitely give him a rematch. Why not? He gave me a shot at the title. I will give him a rematch anytime.”
Khan earned $1.1 million for the fight and Lamont will cash a paycheck of $650,000 a career-high purse for him.
He is now in the position to determine where he will defend his title—he is the world champion! Lamont should now earn the lion’s share of the gate receipts (double of what Khan will earn).
I would advise Lamont to sit down with true family and friends and watch “Godfather 1” and carefully watch the scene where Marlon Brandon tells his son Michael, “beware of the messenger!”
The folks who tell Lamont that it is okay to travel to England to defend his title—they don’t have his best interest at heart—-they are the enemy!
Khan, remained upbeat about his future. He said, I am trying to position myself for a move up to welterweight but I need to win back my titles back from Peterson.”
Khan said, “I’ll come back even stronger I promise. This is what boxing is all about, how you come back.”
He hopes to move up to 147 pounds and a possible and much-rumored showdown with Floyd Mayweather. This fight could easily draw 80,000 fans to Wembley Stadium.
For over two decades I was able to watch up close and personal “The Greatest” boxing promoter of all time as he shrewdly moved fighters from city to city, country to country. He negotiated contracts like no one else ever had, his name—Don King!
Lamont, I am going to advise you like I tried to advise Sugar Ray Leonard when his promoter Mike Trainer was spending more time at the bank than he was.
Please, have an independent lawyer and accountant as means of checks and balances. One of the biggest mistakes Sugar Ray made was his checks were being opened and cashed before he could see them!
You need to make sure every Eye is dotted and every Tee is crossed and ask to be a part of every negotiation.
Trainer walked away from Sugar Ray and not vice-versa. You want to be the one to walk away on your own terms (aka Bernard Hopkins). Remember, this is business and nothing personal!
Black athletes beware, fraud and theft are now American as Apple Pie! Hats off to referee Joe Cooper my “Man of the Year.”
Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC. Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities. The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc. To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site H. B. Sports Legends.com.