The highly anticipated September 24th “Boardwalk Brawl” between Wladimir Klitschko of Kiev, Ukraine, and Samuel Peter of Las Vegas, via Nigeria, has the boxing world abuzz. Forget the fact that the winner is guaranteed a shot at the IBF title, which is currently held by Chris Byrd. This fight is so attractive, it doesn’t need any titular designation to add to its appeal.
J.E. Grant of TheSweetScience.com has called it the year’s most important non-title bout. Not surprisingly, in a fight of such magnitude, everyone has an opinion. The big questions are whether or not the chin-challenged Klitschko, 44-3 (40 KOs) can survive Peter’s bone-jarring power or whether the relatively inexperienced Peter, 24-0 (21 KOs), can get through Klitschko’s ramrod left jab and sleep-inducing right hand.
One person who has more than a passing interest in the outcome is undefeated heavyweight Calvin Brock of Charlotte, North Carolina. With a record of 26-0 (21 KOs), he recently passed on the opportunity to fight WBC champion Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir’s brother, because he had just gotten married and did not have time to prepare properly.
While he picks Vitali to easily defeat Hasim Rahman in their upcoming bout, he is not so certain when it comes to picking Wladimir to beat Peter. That fight, he says, has so many intangibles that picking a winner is not so easy. When pressed, however, he believes that Peter will prevail.
“Both guys are really hard punchers, so anything can happen,” said Brock, who became acquainted with Peter when both were competing in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. (Neither Brock or Peter, who represented his native Nigeria, won a medal). “But I have to think that Peter hits harder and is hungrier. He is coming off several very impressive knockouts, so he has momentum in his favor. He’s going to have to keep his hands up, stay away from Wladimir’s jab, and take Wladimir out of his game.”
Although Peter has looked very dangerous stopping Taurus Sykes, Gilbert Martinez, Yanqui Diaz and Jeremy Williams in his last four fights, it is not easy to forget just how ordinary he looked in winning dull decisions over Jovo Pudar and Charles Shufford in the two bouts leading up to that knockout streak.
“I think Samuel took those guys lightly because he was so confident,” explained Brock. “Fights like those are actually good, because you realize you can’t knock everyone out. Afterwards he went out and knocked out four guys in a row. So I would look at that as a positive more than a negative.”
After the Olympics, Brock and Peter were reacquainted in Las Vegas where both were trained by Pops Anderson for a time. They became good friends and often dined, worshipped and even went to the movies together. They also sparred on several occasions.
“The first time, in 2001, was pretty even,” said Brock. “But the second time, in 2002, Samuel had gained about 10 pounds and was up around 240 where he is now. Even though we were boxing lightly because I was finishing up training for a bout, I could feel his power. That extra 10 pounds was all muscle. He was so much quicker, and so much stronger. It was scary how strong he was.”
Although the refreshingly clean-cut, devoutly spiritual Brock is not a betting man, if compelled to place a wager he would bet heavily on Peter. “Samuel is a good all-around guy,” he said. “He’s a clean-living, God-fearing man who is totally dedicated to boxing. He’s been to the Olympics, so he is used to pressure. He’s already learned that he can’t knock everyone out, which is an important lesson to learn, especially for such a hard puncher. I think the timing is perfect for him to look good against Wladimir.”
As far as his own career is concerned, Brock is scheduled to have a stay-busy fight against an opponent to be determined on October 29th. Conceivably it could take place at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, from which he graduated with a degree in business administration with a major in finance. (Brock’s wife Yolanda is a law student at Duke University).
Asked if there was any chance of marital bliss making him soft or quelling his pugilistic desire, the always amiable, refreshingly honest Brock said that was impossible. “I’m hungrier than I’ve ever been,” he said. “Nothing is going to stop me and nothing is going to make me soft. I’m still the same Calvin Brock, still dreaming of becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. When I finally get that title, I plan on keeping it for a long time.”
He has no regrets about turning down the fight with Vitali Klitschko, saying the timing was just not right and that he would have been cheating both himself and his fans if he went in ill-prepared. He calls Vitali a “Class-A fighter” and says that, as far as he is concerned, he’s the man to beat in the heavyweight division.
Presuming Brock gets past Vitali when and if they ever meet, one might wonder if he would be able to fight Peter, with whom he shares so much more than a vocation. He and Peter are inherently decent, very religious, and known for living exemplary lives outside of the ring. When Brock talks about Peter, and vice versa, the mutual respect they each put forth is readily apparent.
“If the time ever comes where I have to fight Samuel, I would be happy to,” said Brock. “Boxing is only our business, so it wouldn’t affect our friendship. I wouldn’t be able to trash talk him, but then I never trash talk anybody. When the time is right for Samuel and me to fight, we’ll do it. We might beat each other up in the ring, but I’m sure we’ll be friends afterwards.”