OK, it took every bit of 440 days. But I guess I'm officially on board.
Seems this Lamont Peterson kid can fight, after all.
I'll concede to being on the naysayer side of his ledger since Dec. 10, 2011, when an IBF/WBA title fight -- or district-sanctioned cable TV mugging, if you prefer -- ended within him emerging from the Washington Convention Center ring with everything short of Amir Khan's wallet.
I had Khan winning seven of 12 rounds for what would have been a 115-112 scorecard margin under normal one-knockdown circumstances that night, though it was trimmed to just a single point courtesy of the still-iffy penalty machinations of overmatched referee Joseph Cooper.
I'll admit the lingering bad taste of that first go-round might have impacted how I felt about a rematch, and, when Peterson scuttled those plans by getting popped for PEDs in a voluntary test a few months prior ... well, let's just say he didn't help his case with me.
But he may have won me back a little on Friday.
Though I'd still rank his "the testosterone was medically prescribed" explanation below my 4-year-old's "Mommy said I could draw on the kitchen floor" bargaining, I will give him credit for eventually shutting his mouth, taking his punishment and returning to work with the same grinding lunch-pail approach that suited him so well -- win, lose or draw -- in the match against Khan.
And though it's a sizable step down from the "King" to Kendall Holt, the former WBO champ was determined enough, conditioned enough and still on a high enough level to give Peterson problems had he either taken the challenge lightly or been unable to shake off all 14 months' worth of rust.
The latter seemed at least plausible for about nine minutes, a stretch in which the hometown incumbent was visibly moved -- though not necessarily hurt -- by nearly every punch Holt landed, and seemed just as cautious about the feints the New Jersey import used to camouflage his deliveries.
I had it 2-1 for the challenger through three rounds and was largely in agreement with a Twitter universe that labeled Peterson as "flat" or "not into it" over the same introductory period.
My transformation began in earnest in the fourth, when Peterson landed a left hand that instantly crumbled Holt's resolve. A second knockdown in the sixth ultimately turned the fight's final stages into a guessing game on when excellent referee Tony Weeks -- were you watching, Mr. Cooper -- would step in.
When he finally did so at 1:42 of the eighth -- rendering moot my 68-63 card for the winner -- he both returned a shred of legitimacy to the champion's claim on the division's IBF-controlled turf and instantly positioned the new Golden Boy signee amid a smorgasbord of promoter-friendly fights.
Not only does the 140-pound Oscar roster already include Peterson's old friend Amir, but it's also bursting at the seams with Khan's subsequent belt-swiping nemesis -- Danny Garcia -- and a pair of rugged Argentines, Lucas Matthysse and Marcos Maidana, with a combined record that boasts 66 wins, 61 knockouts and four of five career losses by split decision.
Peterson predictably spoke Garcia's name first among the possible contests, with the intention of reclaiming a title strap that was initially returned to Khan after the drug issues and then lost to the unbeaten American in what ranked among this column's biggest jaw-droppers of 2012.