As if defending his IBF junior welterweight title before a hometown crowd wasn't enough, Lamont Peterson figures he'll have an extra edge when he steps in against Kendall Holt on Friday.
Peterson believes a long spell between bouts, resulting from a positive test for synthetic testosterone and the subsequent cancellation of last May's rematch with Amir Khan, will ultimately give him extra fuel.
"I think at this point, a 14-month layoff did me some justice instead of, you know, hurting," Peterson said.
Peterson (30-1-1) won both the IBF and WBA 140-pound titles in his last fight, a disputed split-decision over Khan in Washington in December 2011.
The two were scheduled to fight again in Las Vegas, but Peterson tested positive during random drug testing two months prior.
Peterson's camp said the results stemmed from treatment for a medical condition. He was stripped of his WBA belt, but the IBF allowed him to retain its title after an independent review of his medical records.
Peterson, 29, said he hopes a win before the relatively low-key backdrop of the D.C. Armory can help rebuild his reputation and lead to more lucrative fights. But he acknowledged some people will forever doubt him.
"Until the day I die, they're probably going to say certain things," Peterson said. "But at this point, I can't worry about it. I just have to go on with my career."
Meanwhile, Holt (28-5) is hoping to avoid his third straight title-bout defeat after holding the WBO crown in the division for nearly a full year in 2008-09.
And although Holt, 31, brings a reputation as one of the division's fiercest punchers, he said he expects the fight to go the distance against an opponent known for resilience.
"Everybody asks me . 'Do I expect to knock Lamont out?' I don't," Holt said. "I've been pro 12 years. This is going to be the first fight that I've ever walked into the ring with an actual game plan. So, you know, that's how serious I took this fight. It's a fight that could change my life, my kid's life."
While Khan and others have expressed uncertainty over whether they'd fight Peterson again after his positive test, Holt, who has previously shared camps with Peterson, said he had no reservations.
"I've known these guys for years, and they've always seemed to be standup guys," Holt said. "You know, whether he took (testosterone) for performance enhancing, I doubt it. But if he did, he did. No matter what, I'm going in there to fight."