By Cliff Rold
MGM National Harbor, Maryland - The main televised action kicked off with the latest chapter in the career of a veteran still waiting for his second big chance.
34-year old Jr. welterweight Anthony Peterson (37-1-1, 24 KO), 140 ¼, of Washington, DC, looked like a real comer at lightweight before a disappointing loss to Brandon Rios almost a decade ago changed his career trajectory. Injuries and cancellations are among the roadblocks Peterson has faced in going 7-0 with one “no contest” in the nine years since.
Add a draw to the post-Rios run as Peterson and 32-year old former IBF 130 lb. titlist Argenis Mendez (25-5-2, 12 KO), 140 ½, of the Dominican Republic battled on close terms with Peterson seeming to be better in the first half only for Mendez to have better fortune in the second.
After some early feeling out, both men started to let their hands go more in round five. Peterson fired in combination and started digging to the body while Mendez found success with left hooks. Mendez used the increased action as an opportunity to assert control of the fight. Mendez played the stalker through much of the second half, his greater fluidity and reflexes seeming to frustrate a Peterson who didn’t know how to attack. Peterson spent the last round on his back foot, engaging only momentarily.
It was a fight that felt tough to score and the judges cards concurred at 96-94 Peterson, 96-94 Mendez, and a dead even 95-95. Official punch stats had Peterson landing more overall on the night but Mendez won the last four rounds on two official cards. Both men, predictably, saw the bout their way.
"Of course I thought I won the fight. I boxed, and because I felt my timing wasn't quite there, I used my feet. Normally I'd be more aggressive and walk guys down. If I can stay active, you'll see the difference in my performances, “ Peterson said reflecting. “It's not a step forward or a step back; it's a standstill. I want to fight for the world championship and I think tonight was ultimately a step in the right direction.”
Mendez gave Peterson credit but felt he’d been the better man. “People know that I won this fight and I’m going to keep going forward taking on the best. I give Anthony a lot of credit. He came to fight and he tried to control the distance. I respect what he did.”