The main event featured hometown hero Lamont Peterson (31-2-1, 16 KOs) defending his IBF title against No. 1 contender, Dierry Jean (25-0, 17 KOs) of Canada.
Jean received a surprisingly strong ovation when he entered the ring, with a strong showing of fans including Heavyweight contender Bermane Stiverne.
The bout opened up slowly with both fighters feeling each other out.
Peterson used a steady jab and lateral movement throughout the round while Jean came forward.
The Canadian challenger was able to land a right hand towards the end of the first round, which appeared to land behind the head, but that was his only meaningful punch.
In the build to the fight, Jean promised to make Peterson uncomfortable and give him flashbacks of Lucas Matthysse fight, but his activity rate in the early going did not back that sentiment up.
Round 2 and Round 3 brought some real fireworks as Jean began to close the gap on Peterson and let his hands go.
Peterson had planned to maintain distance and dictate the pace with his jab, but with the aggression Jean showed, it seemed to bait Peterson into a toe-to-toe brawl.
In the middle rounds, Peterson increasingly threw to the body while Jean tried to head hunt.
Round 5 was a huge momentum builder for Peterson as he continued to break Jean down with continued pressure to the body and the challenger was visibly affected.
Jean spent much of the middle rounds trying to escape the ropes as Peterson showed the willingness to trade and go punch-for-punch.
Peterson seemed to feed off of the crowd who at times chanted, “DC, DC, DC” as they watched the champion go for the knockout.
Although he landed a few punches in return, Jean was primarily in survival mode during these rounds.
The size difference was pretty substantial in favor of Peterson and it became obvious early that Jean would not be able to simply walk the champion down and take him to uncomfortable spots.
The seesaw battle once again changed in Round 8 as Peterson’s pace took a dip. Jean caught a second wind and began landing the more telling blows in close quarters.
Jean’s success continued in Round 9 as Peterson picking his shots more carefully. At this point Jean’s Canadian fans began making more noise and suddenly, the hometown fighter was in need of his own second wind.
After dropping a few rounds in a row, Peterson seized control of the final two rounds as he made it a point to the work the body in excess.
Peterson, obviously feeling he did enough to win the fight, spent the last minute of the final round circling Jean and maintaining a distance without throwing many punches.
In the end, Peterson’s hunch was absolutely right as he took home a victory by a unanimous decision to tune of 115-113, 116-112 and 118-111.
The loss was Jean’s first of his career.
In his post-fight interview with Jim Gray, Jean chalked the loss up to a lack of experience, but felt he could leave with his head held high.
Peterson told Gray that he knew that Jean was in his first title fight so he didn’t want him to gain confidence early on.
He thanked the hometown crowd and said that if it was up to him he would never fight outside the nation’s capital.
Peterson also mentioned that he would like to become the one and only recognized champion before he leaves the 140-pound division and in order to claim that title he will have to face Danny Garcia.
Garcia is set to face Mauricio Herrera in Puerto Rico this March and if he is able to win that bout, a unification matchup against Peterson could follow.
Photos by Tom Casino/Showtime and Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Showtime Championship Boxing Replays: Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 9 pm, EST on Showtime, Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 10 pm, EST.