Viewers saw what they saw last Saturday. We saw Samuel Peter looking portly, and dispassionate, and defeated at the hands of Vitali Klitschko, and his own character issues that have kept him from getting in the kind of condition he should be in if he wants to consider himself a world class athlete. TSS didn’t mince words after watching the fight on Showtime, terming the Peter performance “pathetic,” “sad” and “disgraceful.”
But I for one do not hesitate to revisit a critique, and perhaps amend an opinion delivered in the heat of passion. So I called Peter’s trainer Stacy McKinley and asked him just what went down in the corner after the eighth round in Berlin. It looked to me like Peter (30-2) told McKinley that he didn’t want to continue, pulling a ‘No Mas’ in a fight that he was clearly losing but was the slightest bit winnable.
Then, we heard Dino Duva say that Peter’s corner stopped the bout, and most, if not all, fans who watched understood that McKinley offered to stop it, and Peter could have insisted on continuing, and gunning for the shocking KO. TSS didn’t think the mountain of accountability should be thrust upon McKinley, and since TSS is fired up about accountability, after a long spell in the US political sphere of an absence of accountability, we needed to follow up.
First, McKinley insisted that Peter, who weighed 253 ½ at the weigh in, was in “great condition.” There had been whispers that Peter was training in half-a** fashion, but McKinley said that was not the case. The trainer said that the 28-year-old Nigerian didn’t really stick to the gameplan, which was to get in Vitali’s face, and tire him out, and not allow him to use his superb ring generalship. Pound the body, take away his legs, later land the bomb. That didn’t happen in the first round, or thereafter. What did happen, McKinley said, was Peter eating bomb after bomb.
“From the beginning, Samuel was out of it,” he said. “He was taking an awful lot of punches. After the last round, I told him, ‘Start fighting. I’ll give you one more round, show me you’re trying to win, or I’ll stop the fight, because you’lll get hurt real bad.’ He said, ‘I don’t wanna go.’ I said, ‘What’d you say?’ He said, ‘Stop the fight.’ I said, ‘You sure?’ I wanted him to respond, ‘I’ll do it.’ If I had said, ‘No, keep fighting,’ and he died, that wouldn’t be right. I thought he’d think of the title, and his family, but he was staring into space. And I knew how hard Vitali was punching.”
McKinley think the magnitude of the event, and the 99% pro Vitali crowd, swallowed up his fighter. “Very few fighters can hold it together (in that atmosphere). I never thought that would happen to Sam.”
McKinley gives ample credit to Vitali for his effort, and in retrospect, I’d like to give him a bit more credit, and lace into Peter a tiny bit less. “Vitali is probably the smartest, and best thinking heavyweight since Ali,” McKinley said.
Showtime aired the fight, and they don’t have the same super slo-mo system that HBO has, so viewers didn’t see the true nature of Vitali’s shots. McKinley did. “Sam was absorbing hellacious shots,” he said. “People don’t realize.” He has no beef, he said, with Peter quitting. “No. Look at the amount of punches he absorbed. There was no fight there. He didn’t win one round.”
About the weight, Team Peter has tried to get Peter to listen to a nutritionist, and steer away from his favorite foods, to no avail. The trainer would’ve liked the fighter to be around 10 pounds less, but he said he can only do so much cajoling. “The original plan was 242,” McKinley said.
A while back, McKinley visited Peter’s hometown in Nigeria, he said, and marveled at the primitive training methods he started off with. A tire hanging from a tree was his heavy bag, early on. The trainer implied that Peter has reached a level of complacency, and may be satisfied with his level of accomplishment, seeing as he has come from so far.
McKinley noticed Peter was unusually quiet three or four days before the bout, but thought he was simply relaxed. After the bout, McKinley said Peter was calm, as if he hadn’t been in a fight. The two didn’t delve into what happened, and why. “He’s the only one that knows what happened to his body and head,” McKinley said.
McCain Would Bust On Hopkins’ Eloquence Listening to Bernard Hopkins chat with the media before his final NYC press conference, on Tuesday, I was impressed, as I always am, at his charm, and charisma, and oratorical skills. His eyes gleamed with intensity and enjoyment as he talked about other old cats who’ve gotten it done at an advanced age, guys like Walcott, Charles, SRR, and Archie Moore. And those guys, Hopkins pointed out, didn’t enjoy the knowledge of sports medicine and science he employs today. “They were drinking blood and eating raw eggs,” he said. “They were doing the opposite of the right thing.” His staid out-of-the-ring lifestyle—no boozing or late night skirt chasing-has helped his longevity, he explained, comparing himself to Lance Armstrong and Brett Favre. Still, he does sometimes take the extra day off to let his muscles rest. 43 ½, even a sickly conditioned 43 ½, still ain’t 26. Youth carries the day in AC.
A couple other takeways from the pc at BB King’s:
--I was impressed that the economic downturn didn’t dent the catering too much. Yes, the sandwiches were a little skimpier, and the roast beef dwarfed by more bread than in prvious years, but at least there was still grub to draw the grubs.
---Hopkins said, when asked if Pavlik could KO him, “If I was a betting man that’d be a stupid bet.”
---Watch the weigh-in on HBO.com on Friday at 5 PM Eastern.
---Hopkins pulled an Obama and challenged Pavlik to say some of the stuff that he’s apparently been saying to the press, about possibly kayoing Bernard. Obama had expressed surprise that McCain hadn’t had the guts to say to his face some of the things he’d been saying at rallies. I like Hopkins’ chances better than McCain’s….
---Arum plugged the piece in ESPN The Magazine on Pavlik. The Pride of Youngstown also got some time on ESPN’s E:60 show. I yapped on that segment as well. http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?categoryId=3060647
---How do you know when ticket sales aren’t going gangbusters? When honchos talk about how great ticket sales are. Bob Arum, Richard Schaefer and HBO’s Mark Taffett played up the sensibility of buying a PPV and splitting it with friends, and ordering in pizza and beer, as opposed to eating out and then hitting a movie. Arum said there were about 2,000 seats in AC at 12,000 capacity Boardwalk Hall left on Tuesday.
--Couple fightwriters have some solid books on the market. George Kimball’s Four King: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing kicks butt. I was reading Kimball and Borges in Boston growing up, and I have both to blame for my current career path. http://www.amazon.com/Four-Kings-Leonard-Hagler-Hearns/dp/1590131622/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224181972&sr=1-1
Also, Scoop Malinowski is out with Heavyweight Armageddon! The Tyson-Lewis Championship Battle. http://www.amazon.com/Heavyweight-Armageddon-Tyson-Lewis-Championship-Battle/dp/1934841161/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224182060&sr=1-1
Scoop is a good dude. Both books are worth your money and time.
---A guy named Lamar Clark puts out a sweet looking mini-zine, called Round 1, that I recommend you check out at Round1Mag.com. He was at the press conference, and is a cool guy, so support him, please.
---Pavlik’s manager Cameron Dunkin told TSS that after Hopkins, they’d be looking at the Calzaghe/Jones winner, maybe Arthur Abraham, or maybe Rubio, in a Ohio stadium, in the summer.
SPEEDBAG Irish John Duddy (25-0) gloves up on Nov. 21 at Roseland Ballroom, against Sam Hill. If he gets past Hill (17-9, 2-7 in his last nine), he will take on 20-0 Ronald Hearns on June 17 at the MGG theatre. Peter Quillin (20-0) is also slated to fight on the Nov. 21 card, against TBA. If he wins, he’ll likely scrap with Buddy McGirt Jr. (19-1) on the June card. One of New York’s best prospects, Jorge Teron (22-0), is also locking down a foe for the Roseland shoe. Matchmaker Jim Borzell is looking forward to seeing all of these boxers fight make or break ‘em fights soon. “All of them are going to get a step up fight,” Borzell told TSS. “Many people say each of them has been overhyped. We’ll soon see.” Borzell also told TSS he’s hoping the pols in Albany see the light, and OK ultimate fighting. “Unsanctioned MMA shows are happening on a weekly basis, and somebody is going to be killed,” he said. Wake up, Albany, and get into the current century. Tix for the Roseland scraps:
Tickets, priced at $50.00, $80.00, $100.00, $150.00 and $200.00, are on sale and available to purchase by calling Gotham Boxing (212.755.1944), any TicketMaster outlet, or at the Roseland Ballroom box office. Doors will open at 6:30 PM/ET, first bout at 7:00 PM/ET.