Saturday night at the Cintas Center on the campus of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, WBA #3 ranked Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs), from Washington, DC, edged reigning and defending champion David Avanesyan (22-2-1, 11 KOs), from Pyatigorsk, Russia, to win the WBA World welterweight title by unanimous decision after 12 rounds.
The final scores were 115-113 (Phil Rogers) and 116-112 twice (Steven Weisfeld and Robert Pope).
Fighting out of the red corner in purple and black trunks, Peterson had not fought in 16 months and was making his welterweight debut. A fistic clinician of the first order, he has fought the best of the best during his pro career.
Avanesyan, fighting out of the blue corner in white trunks trimmed in red and green, at 28 is five years younger than Peterson. His only loss was in his second fight dating back to 2009. He debuted in the West in 2014, and with the exception of Shane Mosley in his last fight, his second bout in the U.S., the majority of his fights were against unknowns, in Russia against Russians.
The fighters were evenly matched. It was an inside fight fought at close quarters. Peterson took the first and last third of the fight. Avanesyan won the middle rounds. Stylistically they are not all that different. Peterson is more athletic. His punches have more pop. Avanesyan is less composed. He is more likely to let it all hang out until he drops from exhaustion. (He has never been dropped by a punch.)
Working off a textbook jab, Peterson landed upstairs and down almost at will. He could have fought at a distance and made it easy on himself, but Peterson wanted to fight on the inside. He not only made a fight of it. He also sent a message to the naysayers.
Avanesyan does everything well if nothing exceptionally. Peterson was there to be hit, and the soon-to-be former champion did his share of hitting. But there was a level of skill, a degree of concentration at which Peterson excelled, and that excellence grew more evident as the fight entered the championship rounds.
The final punch stats reveal that Peterson landed 228 of 743 total punches thrown (31%) to 182 of 756 (24%) for Avanesyan.
Peterson also landed more power shots, 188 to 156, and more jabs, 40 to 26, and all at a higher percentage.
It was a great performance, however, and by both men.
“I expected to put pressure on him the way he did,” said Peterson after the fight. “I didn’t think he would fight back as hard as he did. He showed he’s a champion and shows he’s at this level. I want to fight anyone in the welterweight division now.”
Avavesyan thought he edged it. It was close. A couple of rounds could have gone either way.
“I thought it was a close fight and I thought that I was landing my punches more cleanly while his punches were being blocked,” said Avanesyan. “Lamont is very good but I thought the judges were impressed with his movement, but I had the power.”
The new WBA welterweight champion is savoring the victory, but won’t surrender his momentum.
“I felt pretty good, felt strong,” said Peterson. “Energy was there. I took some steps forward tonight. We’re looking to get back in camp and keep moving.”
This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.