WASHINGTON: Britain’s Amir Khan, saying he felt a rightful victory was stolen from him on Saturday, vowed to return stronger after a controversial majority decision defeat to American Lamont Peterson.
The 25-year-old English boxer said he was putting his plans to rise into the welterweight ranks on hold for one more fight in order to face Peterson in a rematch that he hopes will be staged in England.
Referee Joe Cooper took points from Khan in the seventh and 12th rounds for shoving hometown hero Peterson and that proved to be the margin of Khan’s loss before a sellout crowd of 8,647 at the Washington Convention Center.
One judge scored Khan a 115-110 winner while the other two handed Peterson the verdict by 113-112. All three judges scored the last round even, so Khan would have kept his titles by majority draw without the last deduction.
“I was up against the referee and Lamont,” Khan said. “The referee was a bit on his side. When you come to his home, you are two points down before the fight starts. I went to his hometown. I beat him. And I didn’t get it.
“A few of the (boxing) commissioners came to me and said that it was a disgusting decision. Even Lamont was shocked he won the fight.”
Khan called it “all a learning curve” and vowed “I will come back stronger.”
“It’s boxing. You live another day. A rematch is what I’m looking at. I want it straight away. I want my two titles back. I know I won that fight and I think everybody else knows I won it too.”
Peterson, once a homeless youth living on the streets of the US capital, relished taking the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation light-welterweight world titles and ignored Khan’s cries of foul.
“I’m a fighter not a referee. I wasn’t caught up into that,” Peterson said. “I was focused on executing my game plan.”
Promoter Oscar de la Hoya was among those shocked by Cooper’s decision to swipe a point from Khan in the last round.
“The first point, OK, we can deal with,” de la Hoya said. “The second point, people are scratching their heads. What happened? What went on? If that point isn’t deducted the fight is a draw. If the two aren’t deducted Amir Khan wins.”
De la Hoya and the fighters want the rematch, but Khan wants it in England or at the very least in a more traditional boxing venue like Las Vegas.
“I came to his home. Let’s see if he’s got the same balls as me,” Khan said. “I don’t think he has. I gave him an opportunity. I think I should get an opportunity back.”
Peterson did not rule out a rematch in England and agreed that sooner would be better.
“I wouldn’t mind doing it (in England),” Peterson said. “The deal would be right. Everything would have to be right. I would do it.
“If it’s left up to me I would fight him tomorrow. It doesn’t matter when. I’m always ready to fight.”
Khan also complained that he was not awarded a first-round knockdown that Cooper judged a slip. Khan answered with a clear knockdown later in the round but every point turned out to be critical.
“In the first round I got two knockdowns,” Khan said. “Then he took the points straight away without any warning. I was shocked I got that point off in the 12th round. But I’ll get my chance back to show the world.”
Khan did not begrudge Peterson for enjoying his triumph in what all agreed was an electrifying fight.
“I can’t take anything away from him. He wasn’t the ref. He wasn’t a judge. He did what he had to do in the fight,” Khan said. “I have to go back to the drawing board.
“Sometimes you get these bad decisions. You come back stronger. I’m strong. I have got a lot left in me.”
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