The WBA and IBF welter titles changed hands last night during a thrilling and controversial battle between reigning champion Amir Khan and challenger Lamont Peterson at Washington DC's Convention Center.
The first round saw Britain's Khan establish his skill advantage, outboxing Washington resident Peterson, who was down in the first but not hurt. Peterson was again outfought in the second but turned the tables in the third when he changed tactics and began to brawl, effectively hurting Khan with a committed body assault.
Peterson's grip slipped somewhat in the fourth frame as the two fighters struggled for control in a competitive round before Khan was in the driver's seat once again in the fifth.
The challenger went back downstairs with success in the sixth but was caught in the process with hard shots by Khan. The seventh saw Peterson pressure Khan intensely, chasing the champion around the ring as the pair swapped big punches before Khan lost a point for shoving in the closing seconds of the round.
Khan boxed in spurts during the eighth as he struggled to cope with Peterson's pressure in what was turning into a very rough and tumble contest.
The champion regrouped in the ninth, battering Peterson with right hands and hurting the challenger before Peterson caught up with Khan and shook him with uppercuts at the end of the frame.
While Peterson was still in pursuit in the tenth, the local man seemed tired as Khan was the busier, more effective fighter. Peterson was more alive in the eleventh, applying pressure as Khan picked his spots to occasionally unleash combinations between clinching and trying to deal with Peterson's ever-present head.
Khan landed the better punches in the final round but again lost a point for shoving Peterson.
When the scores were read, Peterson was awarded two cards by a margin of 113-112 while Khan was awarded the third at 114-111, which was later corrected at 115-110.
Peterson wins the WBA and IBF light welter belts by split decision, improving to 30-1-1 (15), while Khan drops to 26-2 (18), snapping a six title bout win streak.
Expect a mandated rematch given the controversial nature of the officiating during the bout.
The undercard saw local heavyweight hopeful Seth Mitchell, 24-0-1 (18), win his highest profile bout to date, halting veteran Timur Ibragimov, 30-4-1 (16), at 2:48 of the second.
Lightweight Anthony Peterson, Lamont Peterson's brother, 31-1 (20), posted a wide eight round points verdict over Daniel Attah, 26-9-1 (9), who has now lost six of his last eight appearances.