Unbeaten welterweight and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz thought he had secured the one thing his professional career had lacked up to this point: a signature victory.
But the native of the Dominican Republic was sorely mistaken once the judges' scores were announced following his 12-round Premier Boxing Champions bout against Lamont Peterson at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia, on Saturday.
Diaz, a southpaw, appeared to have both outboxed Peterson and landed the harder shots. But Peterson, a native of Washington, D.C., was awarded a majority decision on the judges' scores of 114-114, 117-111 and 116-112.
ESPN.com scored the bout 116-112 for Diaz.
Peterson (34-3-1, 17 KOs), a former junior welterweight titlist, was on the wrong end of a contentious decision against Danny Garcia in April. Peterson admitted he was nervous upon hearing the first scorecard (114-114) announced against Diaz.
"Every time you hear close scores, you kind of get nervous." Peterson said. "I controlled the fight so hearing a majority decision kind of shocked me."
Diaz (17-1, 8 KOs) overcame a four-inch height disadvantage and varied his style throughout. The 31-year-old countered Peterson's advances with clean left hands and was equally comfortable becoming the aggressor.
Although Peterson relied on activity and a quick jab to outland Diaz 234 to 168, according to CompuBox research, it was Diaz who landed the more telling blows.
"I started out strong and faded in the middle rounds because I started to cramp, and it lasted for the rest of the fight," Peterson said. "But I knew I had done enough to win the fight."
Diaz found success early with slick uppercuts on the inside and appeared to hurt Peterson with a three-punch combination late in Round 1.
Peterson's most effective punch was his left hook to the body. But he was unable to do any damage each time he had Diaz cornered.
"[Diaz] didn't really surprise me. He's a southpaw and has great experience," Peterson said. "He showed up and I knew he was going to come tough for this big opportunity. He came to win and it showed tonight."
Diaz rocked Peterson with a pair of counter left hands in Round 7 and began to clown and dance around Peterson after making him miss. Peterson appeared to halt his momentum in Round 9 with steady pressure as both fighters traded heavy hooks along the ropes before the final bell.
But it was Diaz who opened Round 12 attempting to leave no doubt, and he dominated the final frame by bullying and mauling Peterson throughout.
"I fought a great fight," Diaz said. "The decision didn't go in my favor, but I did everything I could. The judges didn't see it the way everyone else did."
Williams upsets Colon
Junior middleweight prospect Prichard Colon suffered his first defeat in a wild upset loss to fellow unbeaten Terrel Williams.
Colon (16-1, 13 KOs), a native of Florida who fights out of Puerto Rico, was disqualified before the start of Round 9 after his corner, believing incorrectly that the 10-round fight had ended, began taking off his gloves.
Referee Joe Cooper gave Colon's trainers time to tie his gloves and re-tape them but ultimately decided to wave the fight off when they took too long.
Williams (15-0, 12 KOs), of Los Angeles, made a splash in his biggest fight to date by landing the harder blows. He appeared to be on the verge of a stoppage before the fight was halted after bloodying Colon's nose and twice flooring him in Round 8.
"I've been fighting for years on smaller cards building my resume," Williams said. "I know how to stay composed. [Colon] was just another fighter. People kept saying he was so much better, but he was 16-0 and I was 14-0. To me, that's a 50-50 matchup."
Colon, who complained of pain to the back of his head after enduring a rabbit punch in Round 7, was rushed to Inova Fairfax Hospital due to vomiting, fainting and dizzy spells in his dressing room.
The fight came just 28 days after Colon knocked out former titlist Vivian Harris and marked the third appearance in the ring for Colon, 23, in the past three months.
After Colon was hurt by a right hand in Round 5, he knocked Williams down with a low blow that Cooper ruled intentional and was docked two points. Williams later had a point taken away for the rabbit punch in Round 7 despite the fact that Colon turned his back on his opponent before the foul occurred.
"I thought Terrel's performance was stupendous," Joe Goossen, Williams' trainer, said. "Colon was a very big threat, a great fighter at 16-0 undefeated. We knew we had our hands full. This is why we prepared so hard. Terrel's a talented kid and he worked hard."