BOLTON, England, (Reuters) – The bruises were still visible on Amir Khan’s face yesterday when he said he was confident of agreeing a rematch with Lamont Peterson after controversially losing his WBA super-lightweight and IBF light-welterweight titles to the American last week.
The Briton’s camp has lodged an official complaint over the refereeing of Saturday’s fight in Washington D.C. where Khan was deducted two points in a split-decision defeat.
“We are trying to get the result overturned, if not then a rematch is going to happen,” Khan told Reuters in an interview at a gym he set up in his home town of Bolton in northwest England and where pictures of him adorn several walls.
“Even if the result does get turned over, I would still give Lamont Peterson a deserved re-match. We’ll do it somewhere neutral, not in D.C. or in the U.K. Somewhere like Vegas … where it will be neutral judging and a neutral referee.”
Referee Joseph Cooper penalised Khan one point in the seventh round for pushing and one in the 12th when he hit Peterson on the break in the fight which was taking place in the American boxer’s home town.
The deductions proved crucial when the scores were announced, one judge giving the fight 114-111 to Khan but the other two scoring it 113-112 for Petersen.
Khan said he would never fight in Washington D.C. again and believed other boxers would now also snub the venue.
“I don’t think there will be other big fights there, definitely not, after seeing what happened to me,” he said.
“People are going to think why should we go there because of the decision, and the refereeing and judging is not according to our profession.”
Confident that Peterson would stick to his word and agree to a re-match in March or May, Khan was already thinking about how to get back his belts.
“(The key is to) not stay on the ropes too long, not stand in front of him, keep the movement, keep the distance … be just one step ahead of him really,” the 25-year-old said.
“I always knew he was going to be a tough fighter, he’s got one of those styles that makes it difficult.
“People were saying to me you can go in there and knock him out in four or five rounds but I knew it was going to go the distance and I trained very hard for the fight.”
The defeat was Khan’s second in 28 fights since turning professional after winning an Olympic silver medal at the 2004 Athens Games.
His post-fight comments have been blasted as sour grapes by some Internet bloggers but Khan denied he was being a bad loser.
“I’m not complaining,” he said. “I’ve said Lamont Peterson fought a great fight, it was just judged unfairly.”
The loss has forced him to delay his plans to move up a weight division, where he would hope to fight the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“It’s maybe made me stay at this weight category for one more fight, so it’s giving me that one more fight of experience and then from that I’m going to move on to 147 (lbs),” he said.
His former promoter Frank Warren has questioned whether Khan should be considering the change, saying his defence was not as good as it should be, but Khan disagreed.
“I think I’ll be a better fighter at 147 … the last three pounds are really hard to lose so maybe I lose a bit of power and maybe a little bit of speed but at 147 I would be much stronger, wiser,” he explained.
Despite his own disappointment, he still found time to dwell on tough times for his other major sporting passion — soccer club Bolton Wanderers who lie bottom of the Premier League.
“If I do get the chance it would be good to go and speak to the team,” said Khan, whose shorts featuring the Bolton Wanderers logo are displayed in a frame in the gym’s reception.
“If I can give them any motivation I will definitely do that … We have to turn it round in the next couple of games, if we don’t we are going to be relegated and we don’t want that.”