Peden Faces Familiar Foe Sept. 17
By Doug Fischer'

The morning of the Bernard Hopkins-Jermain Taylor showdown, the now-former champ's promotional company, Golden Boy Promotions, announced a Sept. 17 card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas that will be headlined by WBC super featherweight champ Marco Antonio Barrera versus IBF junior lightweight title-holder Robbie Peden. The 130-pound title unification bout, which will co-feature Shane Mosley against Jose Luis Cruz, will be televised by HBO Pay-Per-View.

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Peden, a veteran fighter with a 25-2 (14) record, is probably best known in the United States for his one-punch KO of Nate Campbell, which was televised on Fox Sports Net early last year. After four fairly even rounds of action, Campbell doubled Peden over with a wicked body attack in the fifth and looked ready to finish the rugged Aussie, however rather than go for the kill, the dangerous-but-impulsive junior lightweight contender taunted his hurt foe by sticking his chin out and dropping his gloves.

Peden, whose nickname is "the Bomber", happily obliged his tormentor, bombing Campbell out with a sweeping left hook that made the highlight reels of sports shows around the country in the days following the fifth-round KO. However, despite the notoriety of "the punch", Peden was given little credit for the knockout. The victory was viewed as more the result of Campbell's foolish mistake than any action from Peden.

However, the two were rematched earlier this year in Peden's native Australia and the Bomber took his opponent out in eight rounds - this time without any help from Campbell.

The victory gave Peden the IBF title that was stripped from Erik Morales when El Terrible decided to face Barrera last November, and now the belt has helped deliver a high-profile bout against the winner of the Barrera-Morales rubbermatch.

Although they have never fought as amateurs or pros, it won't be the first time Peden has faced Barrera in the ring. Peden, who used to live in Big Bear Lake, California where Barrera often trains, was a chief sparring partner for some of the hall-of-fame-bound Mexican's biggest victories.

"I sparred with him southpaw to help get him ready for [Naseem] Hamed," Peden told before his Saturday morning press conference at the MGM Grand. "I was his main sparring before the rematch with Morales."

Before Peden landed his high-profile punch to Campbell's chops, he was probably best known in the boxing world for landing a punch that nobody outside of the fighters' camps saw - a right hand to Barrera's ribcage that forced a postponement to the Morales rematch.

"I didn't break his ribs as some people reported," Peden said. "The punch caused a big hematoma on the rib, that's all."

In all, Peden, who has been in four Barrera training camps, estimates that he has sparred around 200 rounds with Mexico City native. The question fight fans will have regarding the Sept. 17 matchup is if all that gym work will lead to a boring fight. Sometimes former sparring partners who fight in a real bout know each other's style so well that they can anticipate too much and the fight winds up being dull because of the familiarity.

"It can be a bad thing," Peden admits, "but in our case it will be a good thing. Trust me, it will be an entertaining fight. The way we sparred, we could have charged money for people to watch."

Peden's fearlessness in the gym is what first caught the attention of his trainer Roger Bloodworth, who met the former Australian amateur standout (Peden finished his unpaid career with a 130-15 record and 10 international titles) while still a coach for many of Main Events fighters. Peden was invited to a Main Events-run camp in Florida that included Zab Judah and Fernando Vargas soon after he turned pro. Bloodworth was amazed that the pint-sized featherweight had no problem getting in the ring and holding his own with the 140-pound Judah or the 154-pound Vargas.

Peden helped Diego Corrales prepare for Acelino Freitas last year and more than held his own in sparring sessions with the feared lightweight puncher.

Despite his healthy gym reputation, Peden knows that most fans will look at his record, note the losses to Juan Manuel Marquez and John Brown, and give him absolutely no chance of upsetting Barrera. That's OK with Peden.

"I'm always the underdog," he said. "I was a 3-to-1 'dog' when I fought Campbell at home. No problem. A lot of my family and friends made a lot of money off that fight.

"I've had a lot of injuries that have held me back in the past and I've had a lot of managerial distractions, but I feel like everything is finally coming together at the right time. I'm going to surprise a lot of people Sept. 17."

Peden, who has won five consecutive fights since losing to Marquez (including the Campbell KOs and a technical stoppage of Lamont Pearson), says the key to beating Barrera is in setting the pace. He says if a fighter allows the superb boxer-pressure fighter set the tempo, the fight is practically over - Barrera will either box your ears off or run you out of the ring.

"We are both able to box and pressure fight," Peden said. "How I fight him depends on what he tries to do in there. When he fights, I'll fight with him, and if he doesn't fight, I'll MAKE him fight.

"I'll dictate the pace."


The co-featured bout between Shane Mosley and Jose Luis Cruz could turn out to be fun fight if the unbeaten but unproven Mexican can make it through the opening rounds of their welterweight tilt.

Cruz, who lives in Mexico but trains in the L.A. area, is not a very talented fighter but he has guts and he comes to fight. The only name on Cruz's 32-0-2 (27) record is Argentine contender Carlos Baldomir, who earned a disputed draw in the Mexican's hometown in early 2002. However, Cruz has faced world-class fighters in Southern California's gyms, such as WBO welterweight title-holder Antonio Margarito.

Cruz went many quality rounds with Margarito before the Tijuana native's fight with Kermit Cintron. He was hammered in the early rounds of his sparring sessions with Margarito, but the Mazatlan native kept pressing forward and working the body of the top welterweight contender with both hands until the two stood and traded heavy leather on even terms in the center of the ring.

With Mosley's penchant for body punching and heated exchanges, he and Cruz could make for an entertaining scrap. However, Mosley's advantages in speed and power combined with his big-fight experience and footwork should enable him to control the rounds when he wants to. If Cruz provides enough quality rounds for the new Golden Boy Promotions fighter (the L.A.-based company signed Mosley on as an "equity partner" and gave him the title of "President of Fighter Relations"), the Pomona, California native should be ready to take on one of the stars of the 140-pound or welterweight divisions in his next bout.

Matchups with 147-pound champ Zab Judah, Margarito, or Floyd Mayweather Jr. would all return Mosley to main event status.

Tickets for Barrera-Peden and Mosley-Cruz are on sale
now at the MGM Grand box office and prices are set at
$350, $250, $150, $75 and $50.


Rachel Charles
Goossen Tutor Promotions
(818) 817-8001

Justin Simon
FSN/Best Damn Sports Show Period
(310) 369-6625

Christian Printup
Palace Indian Gaming Center
(559) 925-2756