The heavyweight division gets some serious shaking up this weekend when Wladimir Klitschko meets Samuel Peter in Atlantic City. Although certainty is a fool's game in the best of times, and flimflam in the worst, it looks like someone's gonna fall Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall and on HBO. Does Dr. Klitschko take Peter to school? Or is time for Sam the Man to graduate? This is how The Sweet Science writers see it.
It's easy to dismiss Klitschko as a weak-chinned, heartless fighter, someone who bullies weaker fighters and falters at the first sign of adversity, so I'm going to do what's easy and take Peter by third round KO and continue to beat the drums that younger brother was one of the most over-hyped fighters in recent memory. I think his fight with Sanders ruined him as an athlete, and not that I'm a huge fan of Peter, but he hits too hard for this to be a competitive match.
Based on experience, physical advantages and pure ability, the edge on paper would have to go to Klitschko. He is an accomplished boxer who has the tools to completely befuddle the still-green Peter. But it's hard to ignore Wladimir's two crushing losses to Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster. In the Sanders fight, Klitschko was ambushed. In the Brewster fight, he was outlasted. Either way, Klitschko appears to have neither the chin, the toughness, or the mental fortitude of a legitimate threat. It's not clear exactly when Peter will win, but it will be the “Nightmare” by knockout – whether it's early devastation or systematic deterioration.
I'm going to pick Peter in a TKO by the seventh round or earlier. I think that Emanuel Steward, who I have great admiration and respect for, has gone the wrong route, Klitschko should be fighting guys who aren't big punchers.
Irish Bobby Cassidy
I'm picking Klitschko. I visited his training camp and I think he has it all together – his mind, his body. I think he's going to control the fight with his jab and then stop Peter in the 10th round.
Robert Cassidy Jr.
It's a wonderful little game we play when underestimating a Klitschko. Wladimir could be discounted for not being an aggressive knuckle flinger, but he's dangerous enough with a jab that sets up his devastating right hand. Unfortunately, it's about the time you invest yourself in a Klitschko – one that hasn't been out of the ring for what seems like ages – that you find yourself wondering what made you think you had him pegged. The hype surrounding Samuel Peter will prevail in the form of a TKO in the latter rounds.
Jesse K. Cox
Peter sounds like the second coming of Mike Tyson, but he still hasn't beaten a top contender. Though considered by many to be the underdog, Klitschko still has pop in his punch and more experience than Peter. Going with the upset. Klitschko by knockout in eight.
I can't help thinking Klitschko vs. Peter bears similarities to Lennox Lewis vs. Andrew Golota … Emanuel Steward training a fighter who is at a career crossroads decides to put his charge in against a hard-punching heavyweight on the rise – one who not many other heavyweights are keen to face. Hard to believe now, but after effectively ending Riddick Bowe's career (whilst losing twice!) not many heavyweights were lining up to face Andrew Golota way back when. Steward insisted that Lewis needed to make a statement stateside and eventually got his way, and the rest is history. It looks like a similarly high-risk, high-reward strategy is in play here. However, Wladimir Klitschko is no Lennox Lewis, and I suspect Samuel Peter is more dangerous than Andrew Golota ever was – largely because Peter's psyche has not been cobbled together with a deck of playing cards, as was the case with the Foul Pole. Though Peter has appeared unrefined and plodding at times, I suspect that Wladimir Klitschko will not be able to withstand the pressure the Nigerian Nightmare will apply. Look for Klitschko – he undoubtedly has some tools – to control the action early behind the jab and some effective power punching, but the huge Ukrainian will inevitably begin to tire and Peter will get to him. The days of opponents fighting scared against Wladimir Klitschko – think Jameel McCline – are long gone. Behind steady pressure, Peter eventually gets to Klitschko. Peter by TKO 7
How many out there remember Mac Foster, who faced Jerry Quarry back some 35 years ago? Foster was something like 24-0, winning all by KO. He was expected by most to make it 25-0 by pounding JQ. It didn't happen. In fact, the only pounding was dished out by Quarry. I know that the younger Klitschko doesn't have JQ's whiskers, but he is a terrific offensive fighter with a monsterous, Category 4 (see Hurricanes Katrina and Rita) jab. Plus, like Mac Foster, Peter – who may be a contemporary Mike Tyson – has fought “record builders” in lieu of facing quality opponents. Certainly, Klitschko is by far and away the best fighter Peter has ever faced. Most of Peter's opponents have not been able to withstand his early, all-out assaults. I believe Klitschko can. It is for that reason I see Wlad – employing newly-added stamina – wearing Peter down rather quickly with an assortment of punches, tools and tricks and handing him his first loss. Klitschko in five.
Samuel Peter, KO-8. These are two flawed heavyweights, but Peter's relentlessness will conclude with a fight-ending haymaker.
It can never be said that Wladimir Klitschko is taking the safe route to redemption. In facing the young bull, power-hitting Samuel Peter, he is attempting a complete image repair in one fell swoop. For his part, Peter is also making a giant leap into the great unknown. Perhaps the main motivation for the bout for both is the fact that neither fighter is in the promotional stable of Don King. That means that for either to get a shot at any of the numerous alphabet belts their name must appear as a “mandatory” defense. They won’t be anyone’s optional defense, ever. Klitschko still brings significant skills, speed and power into the ring. While no one doubts any of his athletic ability, it’s the one necessary heavyweight attribute he may be missing that gives this fight its allure – his chin. Peter, the relative neophyte, brings, if nothing else, an ability and willingness to punch hard and with abandon. It’s assumed by many that if one of his wide mega-punches clips Klitschko on the chin it will be Corrie Sanders revisited. On this night, however, despite being a very exciting prospect of undeniable energy and strength, his lack of polish and diversity of attack will relegate him to a being a willing but unsuccessful youngster who will return another day better for the lessons he will take away from this fight. Klitschko will establish his jab early and continuously pull Peter out of position and land hard counters. Peter will give it his all but will wind up exhausted and without answers to the many puzzles Klitschko will present. Klitschko by KO in 9.
Much as I'd like to say “the bigger they are, the harder fall,” Wlad will probably gain a win by unanimous decision. If prepared and conditioned, he's too big and too much experience wise for Samuel Peter. If we see the Wlad that fought Corrie Sanders or Lamon Brewster, the “Nigerian Nightmare” will have a happy ending.
I can't see Klitschko lasting more than 4 or 5 rounds. Frankly, I will be amazed if he gets out of round one, let alone round two. I think Peter knows full well he needs to close off Klitschko, walk him down and punish, first the body and chop at the head. Just let those bombs fly and Peter is going to hit serious pay dirt. Can Klitschko fight a rugged affair? I doubt it. He's going to get clocked. And I suspect Emanuel Steward knows it too!
Last I checked, Mad Wlad and his team never did figure out why his body gave out against Brewster (as it had against Ross Puritty years ago) and how DaVarryl Williamson was able to hit him so often. He certainly can win this fight by staying outside and using his jab and right to keep the Nigerian Peter off him. The question is: Can he do it for 12 rounds or until Peter goes down? The answer is “no.” Samuel Peter is no great fighter, but he does pack a heavy punch and looks built to take a licking and keep on hitting. He has big legs and a shock absorber neck suggesting he can withstand Klitschko’s shots long enough to land one of his own to end the bout. I think Wlad will look good for the early rounds and then start to fade, to the point where he is dropped and stopped once more.
I've been see-sawing on this fight. But, no matter which fighter I'm partial to on a given day, I never feel too confident about my pick – that's how it goes with great matchups. I love that both fighters possess such promise … yet have big question marks looming over their heads. What has swayed me towards Klitschko was Fox Sports Net's most recent installment of “Nothing But Knockouts.” Last Sunday's show had a young Lance Whitaker – before he went Goofi on us – facing journeyman Thomas Williams in 2000. Whitaker was 19-1 (16 KOs) at the time. His sole loss was a split decision to a vastly more experienced Lou Savarese. Whitaker had beaten B-level guys like Alex Stewart and an undefeated Monte Barrett. After he dispatched Thomas Williams in two rounds with a crushing right hand, he went on to stop an undefeated Robert Davis and Oleg Maskaev – also in two rounds apiece. Then like so many prospect/contenders of the last several years, he proved to be The Next Big Bust. My point: With all of his great attributes of size, heavy hands and decent skills, Mount Whitaker looked every bit the future champ we hope Sam Peter to be. He had the boxing industry and fans salivating over him, the same way many are doing over Peter now (actually, Peter is being marketed better). How soon we forget: Andrew Golota, Michael Grant, David Tua, Ike Ibeabuchi, Kirk Johnson, Dominic Guinn: All heartbreakers, all busts, all hyped at one time or another by HBO Boxing and resident pundits Merchant & Lampley. I would suggest that Peter is just the next behemoth in a long line of disappointments, a humble offering to the desperate masses searching for a heavyweight to believe in. Those of us who see greatness this early in the raw Nigerian are wearing the boxing equivalent of beer goggles. Like the young Whitaker, he has beaten a few B-level guys, he has displayed good power. And that's all we have thus far. Does he have stamina? How does he handle adversity? Can he punch upwards (Wlad. is a good five inches taller)? Can he take a punch? Don't tell me he looks like he can – Bruce Seldon had a thick neck too. Wladimir Klitschko, on the other hand, has answered some questions for us that Peter has not. Some of them have been the wrong answer. All this has been well-documented. Assuming (and I'm putting extra emphasis on that word) Manny Steward can put Humpty Dumpty back together again – at least apply enough enough Crazy Glue to his cracks to get him through this challenge – then we should not forget what an awesome offensive weapon he has been on occasion. When he uses it, he has the best jab in the division, perhaps the heaviest right hand; he throws punches straight down the pike. I don't believe he will punch himself out as he did against Lamon Brewster, or if he does, he won't fade as early. So I expect Wlad to punish an in-rushing Peter – who will learn that skills pay the bills, not brute strength – and turn his face into hamburger by round five. I see Peter's corner throwing in the towel by the mid rounds, and preserving his chance to overcome this loss down the road.
On paper Samuel Peter wins this fight by KO. But the bout will be fought in the ring and not on paper. I don't believe Wlad is as bad as many people think and I suspect that Peter isn't quite as good as many people think. We know that Peter can bang and if he taps Klitschko on the chin it's over. However, I'm going with Klitschko here. Wlad and his brother are smart, tough men who still feel they have a lot to prove. This is basically Wlad's last chance. I think he guts it out, gives a gritty performance and stops Peter late. Don't forget, Klitschko can hit like a ton of bricks as well and we've never seen Peter's chin get tested.
This is one of those heavyweight bouts that hopefully will give the division a much needed shake and stir. Both fighters need to prove they belong and both can bang so this should be interesting for the short period of time it lasts. While Klitschko has the big-fight experience, history normally repeats itself and since he's folded in the past, my feeling is he'll fold again. Peter is young, strong and most importantly doesn't know what it's like to lose. Sure he's raw but once Klitschko tastes the “Peter Power,” the fight is over. Peter will follow Klitschko around the ring for a couple of rounds and once the fight settles into it's natural rhythm, the bells will toll for Klitschko and he'll end up stumbling around the ring wishing he was back in med school. “Peter Power” in four via bludgeoning.
Both guys are as talented as they are likeable. Considering Klitschko's suspect chin, it is easy to see him getting destroyed by Peter. But I have a feeling a highly motivated but still cautious Klitschko, working behind his pulverizing jab, will wear Peter down in much the same fashion he wore Jameel McCline down. Klitschko TKO 7.
I love Klitschko in this fight. People forget how well Klitschko can box, how fluid he can be, how much range and variety he has and how much more athletic than his older brother he can be. Though I seem to disagree with Emanuel Steward instinctively, I have to agree with him on this one. Peter is based on ten months of hype amongst fans and writers desperate to unearth a Tyson-like savior for a derelict division. But the gulf between Tyson and Peter is too large to measure or describe, but I believe the big Nigerian's limitations will be ably highlighted this weekend. And, ironically, the guy highlighting those shortcomings may yet emerge, belatedly, as the closest thing the division has to a savior. Remember, at 29 Klitschko is still younger than those bracketed as the “next generation” of heavyweights – Harrison, Brock, Valuev, Guinn, Ibragimov et al. Klitschko KO7
OK, so I was disappointed that the Wladmir Klitschko-Samuel Peters heavyweight dance was not going to be on the Comedy Channel. Dr. Glass Jaw meets the Nigerian Nightmare. Hey, I’m a big boy; I can handle it. How do you have it scored, Hal? “Well, Jim.” Mute button. Zap! If they were telecasting this one from a bowling alley, Wlad the Horrible would be the One Pin. Must be a terrifying feeling, seeing all that power hooking toward you, nowhere to run, bam! Falling. Lights out! And the other guy, the Nightmare, hits like a mule. Has the boxing skills of one, too. Undefeated king of the heavy bags. Can even hit one when it swings; a little. Has the moves of Joe Louis; the white marble one that stands on the ground floor of Caesars Palace. Thinks a jab is what you do with a fork to a piece of porterhouse. What happens after the fight is even funnier; the winner gets to fight either Chris Byrd or John Ruiz for one of the world’s Best Whale titles. Byrd, who won’t fight; Ruiz, who can’t. Oh, yeah, a pick: if it goes six or less, the Nightmare. If it goes more than six, they’ll both play Humpty Dumpty.
Wlad's a big, agile athlete – more fluid and varied with his arsenal than his brother, though not the tactician. He knows what he wants to do – has heavy hands – and if he can keep people on the end of a busy, stiff jab, he can keep them away. If they give him room to follow that jab with combinations, unless a man's unusually durable they'll fall. His Achilles' heel (Besides a fragile constitution and psyche) is: he freezes (The deer in the headlights syndrome) if a jab comes back his way, just long enough to catch him with the follow-up right hand, the way Williamson dropped him in the first round – textbook. Peter is ponderous, both of hand and foot; and though he lumbers – as Jeremy Williams can attest, he hits-a-ton. If Wlad can't take-him-out with his initial blitz of unquestionably quicker hands, the glacier will catch up to him about the 8th or 9th round.
The biggest question in this fight is Klitschko's stamina. He collapsed against Brewster after dominating him early and hasn't given me any reason to believe that he will be able to sustain himself in this fight. Peter is untested with knockout power in either hand. His biggest weakness is his immobility but he will offset that by coming right at Klitschko and being the aggressor. I like Peter by KO in round 4. Even though he hasn't fought on this big a stage, he's the more confident fighter and that will show.
This is a watershed fight if there ever was one. Wladimir Klitschko has sloppily battled his way back into heavyweight contention. If he wins Saturday, he can also regain some of respect lost after his embarrassing defeats to Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster. However, there is just one problem. Klitschko has a clay chin and his hungry opponent has star-making punching power. My only question is how many rounds will Samuel Peter’s coming out party last? Peter by KO.
Michael Grant. Joe Mesi. Dominick Guinn. Wladimir Klitschko. These names represent the most recent crop of “can't miss” heavyweights. The question is, are we going to be able to replace Klitschko's name with that of Samuel Peter after Saturday night's fight? I think so. It is reasonably certain that Klitschko is the more gifted fighter of the two. His physical advantages, along with the higher quality of opposition he has faced should guarantee that he will be more poised than the rather green Samuel Peter. Peter's heavy hands have given him a certain feeling of invincibility, and we have all watched as that type of hubris has led to the downfall of many a good heavyweight suspect through the years. Look for Klitschko to come out strong behind his big, long left jab. As Peter is no defensive master it shouldn't be too long before Wlad sees an opportunity to drop an overhand right behind his jab. Say what you will about his whiskers, but Klitschko's power is at least the equal of his opponent. It is how Peter will react once he is hit hard that will dictate the outcome of the abbreviated fight (there is no way for this to go more than three sessions). My money is on Peter to panic, trying to get his way out of trouble by throwing caution to the wind with counters, which will give Klit the opportunity of setting off a barrage of leather against the shorter, slower man. Klitschko by second round stoppage.