Hunter: ‘We took titles from Khan, watch the tape’
Having slipped every jab, thrown every left to the body and felt every right counter with his protégé in his first fight with Amir Khan, Lamont Peterson’s trainer Barry Hunter is preparing to do it all again, this time away from the comfort of his hometown. We caught up with the amiable cornerman to find out his thoughts on the first fight, the rematch and everything in between…
Barry, a lot has transpired since the last fight between Peterson and Khan, do you feel your win has been tainted at all?
Anytime you work as hard as we work, and you work as hard as Lamont to get up from ground zero. And never made an excuse for failure, never blamed anybody for his position in life, but pulled himself up and worked hard. So once you go out there and give it your all and achieve that goal, to then have that rubbished, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
So what really happened on December 10?
My job is to prepare Lamont both physically and mentally, to make whatever adjustments to overcome whatever is in front of us, and we did that. If you look at the fight, the first two rounds I give to Khan but after that it was us. And there's an unwritten rule in boxing, you have to take the title from the champ and we did. If you’re the champion you defend you don't retreat, watch the videotape.
Have you had to pay for anything in Washington DC since winning the titles?
Haha. You know there was a time we had numerous world champions in the city at one time, Simon Brown, Ray Leonard, Riddick Bowe, William Joppy, Keith Holmes and we were proud of that. But some kind of way we lost that, we lost touch with reality and lost touch with ourselves. So winning the titles in the city gave the people a sense of pride back, it gave them a sense of honour back. And keep in mind that you’re talking about the kid that slept in cars and eat out of trash cans. To do that and go all the way and win the world title you can imagine the hope he gave people that's going through the same thing if not worse.
There’s a school of thought that says Lamont fought out of his skin in the first fight because he was at home – how much do you agree with that?
I don't agree. The times that you saw Lamont do something different that was just his worse performance. And even at his worse performance he was still able to fight Victor Ortiz to a draw, with a flu that we never talked about. He had a nasty weight problem going into the Tim Bradley fight. Not to mention its the mind that controls the body and not the other way round, so if your mind and your brain waves are not firing, I don't care how your body looks, you can do nothing and that's what killed us those two fights.
So are you saying we haven’t seen the best of Lamont yet?
Lamont is a tremendous fighter, he's a very underrated fighter should I say. If you look at his whole career when he fought at 140lbs earlier on he was really 132lbs, we moved him up to separate him from his brother. We fought light-middleweights, we fought middleweights, we fought guys that fought at 147lbs but could make 140lbs, they'd make 140 and then the next time you'd see them they were weighing 160. So yes, you have not seen the best of him.
What Khan are you expecting to face on May 19?
If a Zebra falls in the mud it gets dirty and you can no longer see its stripes. But once he takes water you'll see his stripes are still there. So the way I figure he may start off in one way but eventually you’re going to convert back to what you know and are comfortable with. Lamont is that type of fighter that can box, that can bang and fight very very well on the inside and get down and dirty if that's the case. So whatever the counter is we will have a counter for that.
You were a great motivator in the corner during the first fight, are you going to be able to get Lamont going like that again without his hometown crowd behind him?
Always! It’s not a game with me. Not to down trainers but you have trainers, you have coaches and you have teachers, I consider myself to be a teacher. I teach the art of boxing. The average trainer in the corner today in the professional world does more cheering than teaching. You cannot a lot of times win world titles by just saying 'I need this round' or 'you behind we got to get it'. Why not tell them what's the counter to the right hand or how to stay away from the left hook, so I think we need to get back to that in order to make better fighters and better world champions.
You were close to a fight with Juan Manuel Marquez before taking the Khan rematch; did you ever imagine Lamont would mix it with pound-for-pound guys like that?
We consider ourselves warriors and at times conquerors, and conquerors take you don't sit back and wait for anybody to give you anything you have to go and get it. Marquez is a legendary fighter, Marquez is a Hall of Famer, so definitely before he retires we would love to fight Marquez. The same goes with Floyd Mayweather and the other big names in boxing, this is not us calling out these guys saying this and that, its an honour for us to be able to fight legendary fighters like that and we would love to make it happen.