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Unbeaten Peterson on Homelessness, Sparring With Mayweather

Dec 10, 2009 – 6:00 PM
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Lem Satterfield

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On Saturday night, 25-year-old Lamont Peterson will go after the WBO's junior welterweight champion, Tim Bradley, in a 140-pound, Showtime-televised main event from Agua Caliente Casino, Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Although neither fighter is known for his punching power, it is anticipated that the former amateur junior national team roommates will engage in a highly-skilled, if not technical clash of unbeatens.

But don't expect Peterson (27-0, 13 knockouts), the WBO's 140-pound interim titlist, to call the 26-year-old Bradley (24-0, 11 KOs) the fight of his life. For that battle came long ago, when as children, he and his brother, Anthony Peterson, were forced into surviving and fending for themselves during homeless lives on the streets of Washington, D.C.

Lamont Peterson said he and his brother were ages 5 and 6 respectively when their father was jailed on drug charges, and their mother was left to care for seven children. Lamont and Anthony, however, alternated from foster care and their street activities.

Peterson, who is promoted by Top Rank's Bob Arum, credits present trainer Barry Hunter with rescuing him and 24-year-old Anthony, a lightweight (135 pounds) with a record of 29-0, 19 KOs. See what Hunter and Peterson, who is coming off of a seventh-round KO of unbeaten Willy Blain, had to say in this Q&A.

Exactly where were you growing up in Washington, D.C. when your father went to prison?

Lamont Peterson: We were living in northwest D.C. When my father got locked up, we lost our house. My mother didn't have a job, and my father was bringing in the money.

There were 12 kids. I'm the 10th, and Anthony is the 11th. There were at least 10 of us living in the same house.

We slept in a station wagon that belonged to my father and I think that we stayed in there for about three or four days. At least six or seven of us did move into a shelter home.

Some of the older ones moved in with other people.

FH: At what point were you back out of the shelter and living on the streets?

Peterson: We got kicked out of the shelter home after a few months, and from there on we were moving from an aunt's house to my grandfather's house, stuff like that.

There were some days on the streets, some days at the bus stops and the bus stations. There were some days we spent at the parks. That went on, off and on, for about two years.

FH: What were your survival methods?

Peterson: From ages 6-to-10, my survival skills were to wash windows for money. To steal out of the grocery stores. Pickpocket people.

Snatching money and tips off of the tables at outdoor restaurants. Maybe we would steal a bicycle and sell it.

FH: Can you explain the situation under which your brother-in-law and former fighter Patrice Harris told trainer Barry Hunter about "these little guys who were brothers in foster care" and led you to Hunter's boxing gym?

Peterson: My older sister, Takeisha, was talking to Harris, who was a boxer at the time. And they're married today, and he's working in my corner.

Patrice Harris started telling Barry about me, and me about Barry. He took me and Anthony up there and everything has been good ever since.

FH: Was it difficult to learn the techniques of being a boxer?

Peterson: Barry instilled in me early that it's not just going in there and throwing punches. That's just street-fighting. He kind of told us that boxing is an art and it's a craft.

It's that there are certain things that you have to learn to become good at this sport. When I was in the amateurs, he taught me the right way the first time and didn't have to teach me over again.

He taught me how to have tight defense, he explained the jab and many other things.

FH: I understand that you and your brother went back and earned your high school General Equivalency Diplomas?

Peterson: Yes, we've both gotten our GEDs. I did that this year, in February. Anthony got his maybe two years ago.

FH: For whom did you return to earn your GED -- your mom, your dad, for you?

Peterson: That was for me, but, to be honest, it was mostly for Barry. He asked for it when he found out that I had dropped out. He kind of understood where I was coming from.

But he wanted me to go back and get it, and I gave him my word that I would. When I give someone my word like that, I try my best to come through on my word, and I did.

It means a lot to me that I really accomplished something in life other than boxing. Other than boxing, I can't really say that there is too much that I've accomplished.

I was never so behind in school so far because I didn't know things. I was actually pretty smart in school -- I went to Cardoza High -- but I just dropped out.

FH: Lamont, and Barry if you want, can you shed light on the rumored legendary sparring session you had with Floyd Mayweather?

Barry Hunter: That was in August, if I'm not mistaken. The first day, it was even. The second day, Lamont was down to his business. I'll just say that it was some of the best sparring that you've ever seen.

And after it was over, they were in a nose-to-nose type of deal like, 'I can go one more round,' and 'We can go right now,' that kind of deal.

And it was sort of getting out of the realm of sparring, so I went and got Lamont. In the end, there was a lot of respect. They shook hands.

Floyd told him, 'You know, hey man, you're a good fighter.' Lamont told him the same thing. There were some words, back and forth.

But, overall, when they got out of those ropes, you knew that they respected each other.

FH: How many days and how many rounds did they go?

Hunter: It was about two days for eight-to-10 rounds, and each day they went, they were sparring like four minute rounds with like 15 or no more than 20 seconds rest in-between.

Peterson: To me, that sparring was just another day at the gym. I got that with my brother every day, and I get that at the gym every day. Going at it with Floyd was the same old thing.

It was good work, but I've had harder days with my brother than him. It was just pretty much just sparring to me.

FH: So what's it going to be like for you fighting Tim Bradley, your friend and your foe on Saturday night?

Peterson: Our relationship is, you know, 'What's up, how's your family doing?' and we keep it moving. We don't hang out or that type of deal. As amateurs, you're going to fight your friends.

If Bradley were engaging another opponent, I would support him. But since he is fighting against me, there is no such thing as friendship.

On Saturday night, we're going to go right after each other like we don't know each other. And then afterwards, we can be friends again.

It's going to be a fight between two highly-skilled fighters because both of us have mad skills. But it's going to be highly competitive.

I'm on-weight right now. I'm looking at 138.5. I'm going to go out there and force the pace. That's what he likes to do, but I think I'm going to take control of the pace and we'll see if he can match it.
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