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Peterson to Rematch Khan in Las Vegas


In the past week or so, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer had been rather tough to corral on the phone. He was, however, in a rather talkative mood on Thursday afternoon with the announcement of the rematch between IBF/WBA junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan, who put on one of 2011’s best fights. They will hook up again on May 19th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
“Sometimes I can’t talk to the media; I’m making big fights and I’m working on other ones which we’re hopefully going to be announcing as well. I like to do big fights and that’s a big one,” said an enthused Schaefer.
Peterson had been pondering either an offer from Bob Arum to face Juan Manuel Marquez at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas in the summer or the Khan rematch. When asked why Peterson took their deal, Schaefer answered, “I don’t know what other offers he got. I know somebody else tried to do something but I’m not worried about that. I just work on getting the biggest and best fights done and I’m just happy that it worked.”
Barry Hunter, Peterson’s trainer/manager, explained to Maxboxing, “We’ve been looking at this thing for awhile now. We took several offers and at the end of the day, it’s the fight Lamont wanted, number one. Number two, it was a fight that at that time, it made better sense. It went down to the wire, actually. Today, he came to the gym after his last conversation. Yesterday, we talked about it. He gave me his reasoning as to why he would like to fight Amir and he gave me his reasons why the other fight was attractive. But ultimately, he decided to go this way and I backed him.”

After the controversy of their first affair in December, where everything from “mystery men” at ringside to referee Joe Cooper came into question, there was no way Washington DC (which had a huge turnout) was going to host the return bout. Golden Boy had put the Staples Center in Los Angeles on hold but according to Hunter, “We didn’t want to have it in L.A. because, number one, Lamont had fought in Vegas several times. He’s very comfortable with Vegas, has friends in Vegas and I won’t say it’s a comfort zone but it’s a place he loves to fight.”
Las Vegas may not draw the biggest audience to this fight but it ensures neutrality (at least in theory).
“I would have liked to have had the fight at Staples Center and it’s not like you can get the Staples Center many times because they’re usually booked and I think it’s important for LA to have big fights here,” said Schaefer from his offices, a stone’s throw from the arena best known as the home of the Lakers and Clippers. It’s also regularly hosted boxing since opening its doors in 1999. “But ultimately they felt more comfortable going to Las Vegas and that’s fine with us.”
For Khan, this is his opportunity to avenge his loss, which he will forever believe was of the tainted variety. For Peterson and his camp, it’s to clear up any questions about what happened on the night of December 10th.

“That fight had a lot of negative things about it after the fight was over with,” said Hunter. “Of course, that was something we were never involved in. Our job is to train and go out and fight. That aside, a lot of times, when you make emotional decisions, you make wrong decisions and that’s what we didn’t want to happen. So that’s why we took our time to go over some of the offers, not feel like we were pressured or forced into an offer and make a legitimate decision, which is one of the things that I feel as though we did.”
According to Schaefer, while this match-up is not finalized, Humberto Soto and Lucas Matthysse will square off as the opening bout on this HBO telecast. That’s a good-looking doubleheader.
“Both fighters have agreed to the fight and so HBO is licking their chops because it doesn’t get much better than that with Matthysse and Soto and Peterson-Khan. You have two fights where each one can be ‘Fight of the year.’ It’s not going to be dance-fests; it’s going to be real, toe-to-toe battles. It’s as exciting as it gets,” said Schaefer.
From April 14th to June 30th, there will be five major cards (defined by anything on HBO, Showtime or pay-per-view) in Las Vegas. The pattern has recently been that when Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather perform (and to a lesser degree, Miguel Cotto), those events do well at the box-office. The others, well...not so much. So will these other promotions get cannibalized by the cards on May 5th (Mayweather-Cotto) and June 9th (Pacquiao-Tim Bradley)?
The reality is that, while a bona fide draw in the UK, Khan’s fights against Marcos Maidana and Zab Judah still did lukewarm numbers at the gate (despite the Mandalay Bay running promotions to give away comped rooms and tickets for those fights). It’s not clear just how well this promotion will fare just two weeks after Mayweather and Cotto battle.

“That’s why I pushed hard for Staples Center but ultimately, I believe I want to make sure both fighters are comfortable and in order to get the fight done, it was Las Vegas- then so be it,” said Schaefer. “I’m not going to go and kill a fight because of the site. That would be a stupid thing to do, particularly a fight like this which is clearly one of the most anticipated fights.”
Schaefer believes that the combination of the first action-packed contest and the controversy that raged afterward will create plenty of buzz. Schaefer even points out how the BBC- a network that’s not even in the boxing business- extensively covered the aftermath of the first chapter of Peterson-Khan.
“It’s just going to be an exciting fight so I’m not going to kill a fight because of the venue,” said Schaefer, who says he is still committed to building other regions. “Oh, no question about it. I think there are certain markets which are very  important- and you wrote the story (; Texas is very important- we keep checking in San Jose as well. That’s a great market. There are definitely these non-Vegas venues, non-casino markets, which are extremely important and I think the success of the gate totally supports that.

“So it’s not like, ‘Hey, let’s go to Vegas [every time]’”
The new date for the rematch between Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto is June 30th at the Mandalay Bay. So while Berto rehabs his damaged left bicep, Ortiz will sit despite being perfectly healthy for the next five months. In the past, Ortiz would have participated in at least another fight or two before facing Berto. Nowadays, where everything is so reliant on premium cable dates to pay the fighters, you sit and wait for the next available slot.
And many of these fights have rescheduling clauses that often restrict boxers from performing in other bouts.
“The fact is, you have to be realistic as well. If you start looking at the boxing calendar, it’s not like you’re going to get a date before that. You have April the 21st; you have Showtime with Abner Mares on April the 28th. We have Bernard Hopkins [against Chad Dawson] on HBO; May the 5th is the Mayweather fight. May 12th, nobody is going to go on May 12th. May the 19th, it’s going to be Amir Khan and then a week after that, Top Rank, I think is going to have something as the lead-in to their June 9th show with [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr. Then you have June the 16th; you have the delay from Pacquiao and then you’re already at the end of June.
“Where else could you go if you want to? A fighter like Victor Ortiz doesn’t want to have a tune-up as an upcoming bout.”
And then there’s this: boxers at this level often balk at getting paid tune-up money.

“So really in the end it was the best thing to do and addition to that, there was legal language as it relates to injury postponements.”
As Schaefer mentioned, there is the great possibility of Chavez Jr. returning to the HBO airwaves in the early summer.
Bob Arum told Maxboxing on Wednesday night, “As a matter of fact, I discussed that with HBO and there’s a good possibility that Chavez will fight on June 2nd before the Pacquiao fight. They expect a good audience based on the audience he got [for the Marco Antonio Rubio fight].”
He could be facing Andy Lee and he might go right back to the “Lone Star State” after drawing over 14,000 patrons in the Alamodome. “Texas is a very fertile ground now,” said Arum.
Tonight, another edition of “Champions of Tomorrow” takes place at the El Faro Plaza Center in Vernon, California.
“We got eight solid fights; we got a lot of prospects,” said promoter Ray Alcorta, who staged a show at this venue in December. “We got a couple of real guys that can go pretty far in the business. You got Jose Zepeda, who’s trained by Robert Alcazar. He’s 8-0 right now. He’s fighting out of Baldwin Park by way of Mexicali. He’s really making some noise, pretty much knocking everybody out and he’s been active. I think he’s a kid that can go pretty far.”
Zepeda will face Angel Rios tonight.

“We also have Jesse Roman, a kid that works with Top Rank and Xavier Montelongo Jr., who’s really one of the top amateur prospects to come out of the amateurs to turn pro last year. You hear a lot of good things about him.”
Tickets are priced at $50 and $30. First bell is at 8 p.m.
The El Faro Plaza Center is located at 4433 S. Alameda St, Vernon Ca. 90058. For more info, call 323-233-2261 or 323-353-3212.
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