Peterson hands Jean first loss to keep IBF title
Lamont Peterson lands a left to the head of Dierry Jean on his way to winning a unanimous 12-round decision during their IBF Junior Welterweight World Championship match at the DC Armory on January 25, 2014 in Washington, DC - by Patrick Smith
Judges gave hometown hero Peterson the triumph by scores of 118-111, 116-112 and 115-113, improving his record to 32-2 with one draw before 5,668 at the Washington Armory.
A day after his 30th birthday, Peterson revived his career after being stopped for the first time last May by Argentina's Lucas Matthysse in the third round of a catch-weight bout where his crown was not at risk.
"I had to go out there and show people I have still got it," Peterson said. "Every time I think I have it easy there is another setback. I have showed I can get back up.
"That's my purpose in life. I try to represent something to people trying to find a way out of their struggles and inspire them."
Jean, in his first world title bout, fell to 25-1 but took his first loss in stride.
"Maybe it was just a matter of experience," Jean said. "I'm definitely leaving with my head held high. I fought a hard fight. Life goes on."
For Peterson, the goal is a showdown with unbeaten American Danny Garcia, who holds the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council crowns, for an undisputed title.
"I would like to be considered the best 140-pounder in the world. If it's Danny Garcia next, then that's what it is," Peterson said.
"He's considered number one and rightfully so. I do want to move up to welterweight pretty soon, so the sooner the better."
Jean, a 31-year-old born in Haiti but based in Montreal, exchanged tentative jabs with Peterson in the early going.
Peterson landed a right to the chin off a clinch in the second but Jean used his speed edge to punch the champion into the ropes late in the round.
Peterson, who had the reach and height advantage, evaded Jean several times to escape trouble in the third and both fighters became more defensive.
The champion started the sixth round aggressively and pressed the attack, pounding Jean against the ropes with flurries of punches, opening a cut near Jean's right eye.
"I knew it was his first title fight and it's a big stage," Peterson said. "I didn't want him to get confidence so I got on the gas."
Jean began to connect well with single blows in the seventh and eighth but could not stop Peterson from taking control of the fight in the later rounds.
Peterson, who grew up homeless on the streets of the US capital, took the title from Britain's Amir Khan in a controversial split decision at Washington in 2011, but a planned 2012 rematch with the Englishman was scrapped after Peterson tested positive for steroids.
Peterson kept the IBF crown after winning an appeal and won his only prior defense of the title with an eighth-round stoppage of fellow American Kendall Holt last February.