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Delivering the goods

Letter carrier Pearson wants shot at world boxing crown

(Published March 11, 2002)

By BRIAN BRADFORD

Staff Writer

Lamont Pearson delivers letters for the U.S. Postal Service by day and delivers knockouts for the Keystone Boxing Camp by night.

Pearson (17-0-1, 10 KOs), a D.C. native, is preparing to take his show on the road against Manuel Sepeda on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights on March 21 in Pheonix, Ariz.

As the International Boxing Federationís top-rated contender, a win over Sepeda (15-5, 2KOs) would guarantee Pearson a title shot against IBF Junior Lightweight Champion Steve Forbes. Forbes recently cancelled his scheduled fight on the same card to prepare to defend his title against Pearson, a bout that must take place before June.

Pearson, 30, currently holds the U.S. Boxing Association crown, but said he longs for an international title like his stable mate, Demarcus "Chop Chop" Corely, the reigning World Boxing Organization welterweight champ.

"Heís a world champion," Pearson said, as he smiled.

Pearsonís own journey to become a world champion began at the Kenilworth-Parkside Recreation Center in Northeast Washington. Pearson was playing football three nights a week when the center started giving boxing lessons on the other two nights. The sweet science won over his interest and Pearson dropped football to dedicate himself to boxing.

As an amateur he stacked three D.C. Golden Gloves championships before winning the national championships in 1998. Only three years into his professional career, Pearson is noted in most circles as one of the best in his weight class.

Pearson said he feels he is fortunate to have advanced so far, so fast.

"For me to get a mandatory challenge in three years is great. Iíve been lucky that I havenít had to experience the negative side of boxing Ė the politics," he said.

As long as he remains undefeated, Pearson said he hopes to continue to rise through the ranks, but he remains patient.

"Itís hard to say whether this is a job or a sport. I guess as long as my family is happy and my contracts get paid, then Iím happy boxing," he said.

While looking forward to fighting Forbes for the IBF belt, Pearson said he wonít be sleeping on Sepeda.

"He may be the strongest fighter Iíve faced. Oh, no, this is no walkover," Pearson said. "Iíve watched about six tapes of him and, while he may not be the most skilled boxer, heís got great balance and strength."

Sepeda has won his last four fights and is ranked ninth by the IBF as a featherweight. Pearson said his training for the Sepeda fight is just the way he likes it Ė routine.

"Everything you do out of the gym shows up in the ring," he said. "You canít go out, like basketball players, drinking, smoking and partying and think youíre going to get into the boxing ring and go 12 rounds."

Pearsonís roadwork is done like most boxers, early in the morning.

"I hit the road at about 5 a.m.," he said. "It takes me about 45 minutes to run three or four miles."

After dropping off his 5-year-old son, Lamont Jr., at school, Pearson works an eight-hour shift delivering mail. "I pick up my son by 5 oíclock, take a quick nap and Iím at the gym by seven," he said.

The gym is a few spacious back rooms of the Keystone Insurance Companies offices in the Marlo Heights Shopping Center. A few feet away from where he trains is Pearsonís BayRex Sports Apparel Shop. Pearson started the business in 1999. Running a business, heading a household and chasing a world championship is intense, he notes.

"When I won the NABA title I realized that making it isnít so hard. Holding on is the hard part."

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator