Timothy Bradley was fighting on a premium cable network in a luxurious though smaller-scale casino, but the world junior-welterweight champion from Palm Springs showed Saturday he's worthy of moving to the next level.
Bradley, displaying superb fitness along with punching speed and strength advantages, dominated Lamont Peterson of Washington, D.C., to retain his World Boxing Organization belt by unanimous decision at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage.
Judges Fritz Werner (120-107), Jose Cobian (119-108) and Denny Nelson (118-110) gave Peterson just three of 36 total rounds judged.
Peterson was knocked down for the first time in his career in the third round, and Bradley consistently beat the challenger to the punch.
Up next could be England's Amir Khan, whose trainer Freddie Roach scouted the bout from the crowd.
"I will fight whoever they want me to fight and I don't care where I have to go," Bradley said.
Peterson (27-1) acknowledged that his first title shot was sabotaged by two rights Bradley administered in the first round.
"I lost the round, fell behind and got reckless," Peterson said.
Bradley (25-0) wobbled Peterson in the second with a hard right on top of an impressive flurry. He briefly dropped Peterson with an overhand right in the third. Bradley sent an overhead right to the head as Peterson ducked in for a better angle.
The champion's precision and power advantage allowed him to pile up rounds. He remained busier.
"He got a little careless and was rushing in there instead of following his jab," Bradley said. "When he came in is when I nailed him."
There was no quit, of course, in Peterson, who overcame a homeless period as a child to reach Saturday's pinnacle. He struggled, however, to follow the infrequent hard scoring blows that he did land.
With his kid brother, Anthony, imploring him to "go," Peterson sustained a cut under his left eye in the 12th round, and engaged in a classic final-seconds barrage that had the crowd on its feet.
"Lamont showed a great will, he'll be back as a world champion someday," Bradley said.
In the other Showtime-televised bout, Australia's Vic Darchinyan defended his world super-flyweight championship by knocking out Mexico's Tomas Rojas with a flush left cross 2:54 into the second round.
Darchinyan (33-2-1), coming off a bantamweight title loss by decision to Joseph Agbeko in July, said "it was only a matter of time" before he dropped Rojas. "I wasn't in a big rush. I wasn't looking for a big punch [but] I knew I'd knock him out."
Darchinyan wants Nonito Donaire next; he suffered a TKO loss to the Filipino fighter in 2007.