By Billy “Loops” Luppert
Photos: Delane Rouse-Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
Amir Khan celebrated his 25th birthday Thursday, and while he got his cake, he’ll have to wait to eat it too. That is, at least, until after his fight on Saturday night in Washington, DC, against Lamont Peterson. While the world awaits for Saturday night, both participants met the media at the final pre-fight press conference inside the Washington Convention Center. It is the same venue that the two will do battle in the main event of HBO’s World Championship Boxing doubleheader. Also scheduled to be on the televised portion of the card will be undefeated Heavyweight, and former linebacker for the Michigan State Spartans, Seth Mitchell, taking on Timur Ibragimov in a 10 round bout.
Golden Boy Promotion’s President Oscar De La Hoya played emcee for the event, as he introduced everyone from the undercard fighters, to Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray, to company partner, and former Middleweight and two time Light Heavyweight World Champion, to the co-main, and main event combatants themselves.
When it came time to introduce the fighters who will be fighting on the HBO telecast, De La Hoya started with the two Heavyweights, and minced no words. “I believe Saturday night we will see the future of the Heavyweight division. Both these participants know the opportunity that is in front of them. They know this is a great chance to showcase what the heavyweight division will be presenting to the world in years coming.” With that said, De La Hoya called Ibragimov up to the podium to say a few words. The 1996 Olympian and native of Uzbekistan only spoke a few words. “It’s my pleasure to be here (in DC) and fight here” said Ibragimov. “I’ve fought so many times in the Red Square in Moscow, but never in the Capital of America. I’ve been here for 9 years, it’s a big honor, that’s why for me, I know I have to do my best. Thank you.”
After Ibragimov spoke, the next person to come up to the podium and speak was Mitchell’s trainer, Andre Hunter, who was brief, but to the point. “Seth prepared very well and he’s a competitor , so I know Timur came to fight. He comes from Uzbekistan with discipline but Seth is ready to go. We’re tired of training.
After Hunter spoke, De La Hoya introduced Mitchell. Mitchell walked up and kept it simple. “I’m excited about the fight, I’m anxious. Like my trainers said, I’m tired of training. I’m not underestimating Timur. It’s going to be a great fight Saturday night, and I’m confident. I know this is a big step up. I respect my opponent a lot, and I’m pretty sure when the bell rings he wont respect me, and I wont respect him. We trained hard, we worked hard. I’m just excited, I feel that its my time and I always said I’m very humble and very confident. I’m not cocky at all. I’m excited about Dec. 10th.
After that, it was time for the main combatants and their trainers. First up to the mic was Peterson’s trainer Barry Hunter, whom if you didn’t know any better, was so humble and gracious, one would’ve thought he was part of team Khan. It wasn’t one trying to suck up to the opponent and his team, but instead, just the showing of ultimate respect. “These gentleman here, when I first got to London and got to hotel, we didn’t know where to go and they greeted us with open arms. This is a fight based on business. If it weren’t for that we’d be hanging out. These are good people, and I love them. I give them a lot of credit bceause its not often that someon3 takes a fight in someone’s hometown when you could fight anywhere on the planet.”
Following Hunter was Peterson, who was much shorter at the mic. Peterson simply said, “I’m gonna keep it real short today. Been talking for about 2 months. I’m tired of talking, and I’m ready to fight. Looking forward to a great fight this weekend, just make sure you be there.
Up next was 2012 IBHOF inductee, and Khan trainer, Freddie Roach. Roach, as well was short with his comments. “I haven’t been to DC in a long time. I fought here on March 1st, 1986 against Darryl Tyson and he kicked my butt, but we’re gona change the outcome this time. My guy Amir Khan is ready for this fight. We had a graet training camp, and we’ll see you there.
Finally, last, but certainly not least, was the birthday boy himself. He was introduced by De La Hoya, who praised him for not only the fighter he is inside the ring, but for what he does outside the ring, and the charity work he does for both the people of the UK and Pakistan. A fighter that De La Hoya feels is making a name for himself, to one day, become the best in the world. After being showered with praise, Amir Khan got up and stepped to the mic, and said, “We’re here in DC. I’ve always said when I was younger I wanted to fight in all different states and areas of the world because I want to be the best. Coming to Peterson’s hometown, its a tough task. We know how tough Peterson is. I really think we’ll have a lot more support, There is a big fan base in DC. Everywhere I’ve been going its been great. We’re ready for this fight. They’ve been pushing me hard, sparring hard, it’ been one of the best trainign camps I’ve had and I just hope you all enjoy Sat night. Been a long time since a big fight in DC, and we wanna bring the big fights back to DC.”
Tickets for Saturday Nights “Capital Showdown” at the Washington, DC Convention Center are priced at $300, $150, $75, $50, and $25. They are available for purchase through Ticketmaster by calling(800) 745-3000, or online at www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center Box Office, which will be open Thursday, December 8 and Friday, December 9 from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and on Saturday, December 10 from 12:00 p.m. until approximately 11:00 p.m. HBO broadcast begins at 9:45pm ET/6:45pm PT