WASHINGTON — Lamont Peterson retained the IBF junior welterweight title Saturday night, unanimously outpointing previously undefeated Dierry Jean in front of a hometown crowd of about 5,600 fans at the DC Armory.
Peterson (32-2-1) rebounded from a third-round TKO loss to Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse in a non-title fight in May in Atlantic City, N.J. Jean, from Montreal, dropped to 25-1.
“I knew it was his first championship fight,” Peterson said. “It was his first time on the big stage. I didn’t want him to get confidence, so I got on the gas.”
Peterson, who turned 30 on Friday, won by scores of 118-111, 116-112, and 115-113.
There were no knockdowns and neither fighter ever appeared to be in serious trouble, but Peterson landed more and harder punches.
“I knew when I looked at him that he was pretty small and I would be physically stronger than him.” Peterson said. “He’s pretty muscular, but I’m a pretty good inside fighter and know how use my leverage, so I wanted to put my body on him and back him up.”
Referring to Peterson’s loss to Matthysse, Jean had said he would be able to take advantage of Peterson’s chin, but the champion withstood Jean’s best punches.
“The difference tonight was just a matter of experience,” said Jean, who was buoyed by a contingent waving Canadian flags behind his corner. “I leave with my head held high. My fans are with me, and I fought a hard fight.”
For Peterson, the win was crucial after the crushing loss to Matthysse.
“Every time it seems like I’m set and I’ve got things flowing, I win championships, there’s always what? Setbacks,” Peterson said. “So I’m built to get through setbacks and show people that you can get up and fix things. You can always come back.”
After an uneventful first round, Peterson scored with a left hook early in the second round, but Jean responded with a flurry late. Two judges gave Jean the second, third and fourth rounds.
“He never hurt me,” Peterson said. “He hit me with a few shots. He never stunned me, he never made my legs weak or anything like that.”
Jean appeared to be tiring in the middle rounds and Peterson landed several punches with him against the ropes in the sixth.
Peterson continued to apply pressure late in the fight, but Jean withstood it. All three judges gave Peterson the final three rounds.
Peterson has his sights set on WBC/WBA junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia.
“He’s considered the number one guy and rightfully so,” Peterson said. “I want to be considered the best 140-pounder before I leave the weight class. I do want to move up to welterweight pretty soon, so the sooner the better.”
Jean, who was born in Haiti and moved to Montreal when he was 10, didn’t begin boxing until he was 18. He turned pro in 2006 and was fighting for just the third time outside of Canada.
The 31-year-old earned the title shot with a fourth-round TKO against Cleotis Pendarvis in an IBF elimination fight in May.
In the co-main event, super welterweight Jermell Charlo retained his WBC Continental Americas title with a unanimous decision over Gabriel Rosado.
Charlo, from Houston, is 23-0. Rosado, from Philadelphia, dropped to 21-8.
The quicker Charlo controlled the action for most of the 10-round fight and the judges scored it 100-90, 99-91 and 97-93.
Rosado, dropping back down in weight after two losses and a no-contest as a middleweight in 2013, began bleeding from a cut over his left eye in the fifth round. It was the same area where he suffered cuts in two of his last three fights.
Referee Malik Waleed ruled the cut was from a punch, but a Showtime television replay appeared to show it was the result of a head butt.
On the undercard, undefeated bantamweight Rau’shee Warren (18-0) of Cincinnati won a unanimous decision over German Meraz (33-27-1) of Mexico in an eight-round bout.
Middleweight Dominic Wade of nearby Largo, Md., survived a first-round knockdown and improved to 14-0 with a unanimous decision over Dashon Johnson (15-14-3) of Riverside, Calif.