Khan on wrong side of split-decision
Boxing: Amir Khan's dreams of global superstardom were spectacularly derailed in Washington as local hero Lamont Peterson relieved him of his WBA and IBF titles in a split-decision on Saturday night.
The Englishman had Peterson down twice in a brilliant first round but then faced perilous onslaughts in the third and seventh while also twice being harshly docked points.
Those deductions made all the difference, as Peterson snatched victory on two cards by just a point to leave Khan surely hoping for a rematch and chance to put things right.
Khan came into the bout talking of moving up to welterweight and pursue 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 Joseph 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.
Undaunted, Khan was prepared to trade with Peterson in the fourth, piling in with a right hand the challenger did well to shake off but struggling to utilise his speed.
Khan went down under pressure in the fifth but clearly had just lost his footing and he clearly won the round to maintain a slender lead.
Both men landed body shots but Khan, having boxed beautifully for moments in the sixth, allowed himself to be hit before landing a superb double left-right which had his own fans off their seats.
Khan seemed wobbled by a right hand and left hook and clinched before firing back quickly.
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 - who goaded Peterson in an act of machismo - was then docked a point at the round's conclusion for apparent pushing.
Peterson dug in two hurtful lefts to Khan's ribs and followed with a left hook to the head in a neutral corner as the Briton looked ever closer to letting his titles slip away.
Early in the ninth Khan was caught badly again but rallied to launch a spirited attack of his own. Both men's faces were marked up as the tempo ebbed and flowed.
Khan then landed a left-right double which left Peterson out on his feet only to shake it off well. Khan dug in a right to the body and a long left hurt Peterson again.
Still Peterson marched forwards and Khan took a winging right hand to the head as the session ended.
Khan's fancy footwork was not stopping Peterson landing blows, though it was the champion who just edged the 11th.
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 114-111 by the third judge.