Lamont Peterson, finally set to defend the title he took from Britain's Amir Khan in controversial fashion 14 months ago, says his long layoff will not be a problem against Kendall Holt next week.
Peterson won a controversial split decision in Washington over Khan after the Englishman was twice penalized a point for pushing. A planned rematch last May was called off after Peterson tested positive for a synthetic testosterone.
The World Boxing Association restored its light-welterweight crown to Khan but the International Boxing Federation accepted an appeal by Peterson.
When Zab Judah bowed out as mandatory challenger for another bout, Holt had his title chance and Peterson finally had an opponent. The two will meet on February 22 in Peterson's hometown of Washington.
"To me it feels great to get back into the ring," Peterson said. "The layoff did not hurt me because I've been in the gym training like I was going to fight for the past year.
"I don't believe in ring rust. A fighter fights and that's what I do. But one good thing with the time off is that I have been able to rest my body and work on fine tuning my skills. I'm ready to fight now."
Peterson, 30-1-1 with 15 knockouts, will be the fighter who ends an 11-month layoff by Holt, a former World Boxing Organization light-welterweight champion who has been out following right shoulder surgery.
"My shoulder is 100 percent healthy and I feel fantastic," Peterson said. "The explosiveness is there and I'm punching harder than ever. I feel more confident in my ability to back up my opponents. I feel like a whole new man."
Among Holt's sparring partners has been former world welterweight champion Shane Mosley.