Boxing: Amir Khan blames referee for titles defeat


Amir Khan tonight blamed referee Joseph Cooper for his shock light-welterweight world title defeat by Lamont Peterson, insisting he was "against two people" in the ring.

Khan, who lost a split decision to local man Peterson by two scores of 113-112 against him at the George E Washington Convention Center, was deducted a point by Cooper in both the seventh and 12th rounds for pushing.

Khan unsurprisingly disputed the calls - which were decisive in the outcome of the bout - and insisted any pushing was prompted by Peterson's own foul play.

"It was like I was against two people in there," he said. "He kept trying to pick me up. He was wild. He was coming in with his head lower and lower every time.

"I had to push him away because he was trying to come in with his head. He was just so low. He was being effective in pressurising me but I was the cleaner fighter all night.

"I am ready for a rematch. I am here and I will take it. I knew it would be tough against him in his home town and this is why boxing has not been in Washington DC for 20 years - because you get a decision like that.

"I thought he was going to head butt me and that is why I pushed him."

Peterson was simply happy to finally have two belts around his waist.

"I came into this fight as the underdog with most people giving me no chance of winning," he said. "But I followed my game plan.

"I knew this was a 12-round fight - not just three rounds - and I didn't get worried when I got knocked down inthe first round.

"I came back. He was holding my head and pushing me down. That's why the ref took the two points off.

"My body shots were working. I will definitely give him a rematch, why not? He gave me a shot at his titles in the first place so I will give him a rematch, no problem."

Khan came into the bout talking of moving up to welterweight and pursuing glory in that division.

The pre-fight buzz had centred on his long-term future rather than the more immediate proposition of dangerous challenger Peterson.

While Khan came into the ring boasting a record of 26-1 with 18 stoppages, Peterson (29-1-1, 15KO wins) also had just the solitary defeat, which came against WBO champion Timothy Bradley in 2009.

Yet Khan was the overwhelming favourite despite being on away turf and his introduction was met with a hostile response from a pro-Peterson crowd, albeit peppered with his own followers.

A superb opening round saw Peterson down twice. First, the Englishman landed a right hand and glancing left hook which sent the American down only for referee Cooper to seemingly rule it a slip.

The count was administered moments later, however, as another combination culminating in a sharp left sent the American onto the floor in the same corner.

Peterson showed more in the second, holding ring centre but seeing Khan land the more eye-catching shots.

Khan survived a nightmare third round in which he took a right hand to the head and left to the body which left him on wobbly legs for the remainder of the session.

He had to run for much of the round as Peterson stalked him and repeatedly landed power shots to head and body, one of which - a right near the ear - very nearly sent Khan tumbling.

Khan continued to try to box on the move but was being caught with solid shots to head and body. A frantic seventh saw Khan rocked again as he had to hold on after being caught with rights and left hooks on the ropes, with Khan wheeling away on unsteady legs in a bid to survive. Khan was then docked a point at the round's conclusion for apparent pushing.

Early in the ninth Khan was caught badly again but rallied to launch a spirited attack of his own. Khan then landed a left-right double which left Peterson out on his feet only to shake it off well.

Khan was very harshly docked another point for pushing in the final round as both men looked to snatch victory and after the fighters embraced at the final bell, it was Peterson who took the shock split decision win with scores of 113-112 twice in his favour with Khan being handed the verdict by the third judge.