Yes, fight fans, there was another fight happening in the US on Saturday evening.
There wasn't too much of the Manny Pacquiao energy and output on display, as Sam Peter put his interim WBA title on the line at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday evening, against Jameel McCline.
Yes, the large Nigerian banger exited with a win, as expected, but there were some precarious moments in the second and third round for the big Nigerian, and quite possibly, Oleg Maskaev is wishing his back had held up. Peter didn't look overly sharp, and if McCline's stamina had help up better, his title shot winless streak would've been broken.
TSS scored it 116-111 for Peter, though many of the rounds were close. Had McCline jabbed more, heck, had he just thrown more, the story could've been different.
McCline was a late inning relief pitcher for Oleg Maskaev, who withdrew from the gig with a bad back. The WBC installed Peter as the interim champion, and Maskaev can have a crack at "his" title, which he won from Hasim Rahman in August 2006, when he's well.
This was McCline's third crack at a heavyweight title. The 37-year-old has lost to Wladimir Klitschko, Chris Byrd and Nikolay Valuev.
In the third, McCline notched two knockdowns. Peter did well to exit the round. A right uppercut stung Peter, and then a right cross had him on the floor. His legs looked a little wobbly but he rose and re-entered the fray. A left hook sent him to the deck for the second time, and the crowd roared, sensing a major-league upset. He pulled himself up using the ropes, and everyone held their breath. But McCline didn't close the show, to his chagrin.
Peter went down, from a right, at the tail end of the second round. He had taken the round, but a hard right, with a little push, put him on the floor.
Peter dropped a nice right cross at the end of the first round. McCline looked to clinch several times, but didn't look scared in the first.
After the third, McCline, one would think, would've come out guns a blazin to start the fourth. But no. He allowed Peter to regain his legs, and didn't check to see if there were still cobwebs on his brain.
Peter, a 27-year old Nigerian native, rises to 29-1 with the win.
McCline drops to 38-8-3.
Peter revealed that he broke his left hand during camp, but chose to fight on, so he deserves points for not pulling out. Both hands, he said, were hurting him during the fight. "I knew I had to stand and defend my belt," he said, when asked if he thought he was a goner in the third.
McCline, after, admitted that he should've closed the show. "I wasn't happy with my performance," he said. "I could've finished him. I should've finished him and I didn't. I thought I had him. He got away and that's why he's the champion. Sam Peter is a great champion."
The judges were Julie Lederman, Steve Weisfeld and Billy Costello. Julie had it 113-112, Weisfeld 115-111, and Costello saw it 115-110.
SPEEDBAG Roy Jones and Tito Trinidad were in the house.
--Shaggy, of "Boombastic" fame, did a performance before the main event. He was not lipsynching. He was not wearing an inappropriate bikini, either.
---The atmosphere, the decibels, during Golota/McBride were quite impressive. Buddy McGirt worked McCline's corner.
---Ex TSSer Michael Olajide was in the house. As was Junior Jones, Iran Barkley and Zab Judah. He drew some boos. Wyclef Jean got some claps. Don King drew boos and cheers, slightly more boos.
---Stacy McKinley gave McCline the throat-cut gesture several times before the bout began.
--Massachusetts fight fans would recognize McCline's trainer: "Poppa Ray" Drayton was the chief second. I was shocked, SHOCKED, to learn his real name is Matthew.
--Julie Lederman was kind enough to give me a judging tutorial pre-bout, which helped me focus doing the deed for Showtime. I have to admit though, I didn't adhere totally to her wisdom; one or two times, I tripped up, and shared a comment or two with Ron Borges, who was filing for ESPN.com.
--Please, Showtime, I beg of you...please add a Punchstat/Compubox stat to your shows! Farhood, can you hook that up?