The two fighters are cut from the same plain-patterned cloth. They are businesslike, bordering on boring, really, if you are looking for some verbal sizzle to go with the steak.
Sam Peter and Oleg Maskaev cannot be relied upon to add that extra something to a promotion in order to drum up interest in their October 6th showdown at Madison Square Garden. Luckily, they both have mouthy managerial sorts ready to spout off for them, and spur interest in the showdown, which has Maskaev’s WBC title up for grabs.
The card is bolstered by a Daniel Santos/Jose A. Rivera junior middleweight boxoff, with the winner getting a crack at WBA champ Joachim Alcine. Also, in a heavyweight boxoff, thirtysomethings Andrew Golota and Kevin McBride engage in a Caucasian Boxing Association (CBA)* heavyweight title fight.
The feature pits terminal underdog Maskaev, the 38-year-old reclamation project from Kazakstan whose fate has been up in the air as sanctioning body political wranglings had to play out. Maskaev (34-5, 26 Ks, has been KOd five times) wanted to dodge the 26-year-old Peter (28-1, 22 Ks), showing himself and his handler Dennis Rapport to be of sound mind, and instead take a bigger money fight with rust-covered Vitali Klitschko, who last fought in December 2004. But Peter’s promoter Dino Duva diligently worked all available channels to secure this mandated shot at Maskaev.
The date, October 6, is a crowded one, as the eyes of many fight fans will be glued to the Manny Pacquiao/Marco Antonio Barrera rematch, which takes place in Las Vegas, and will be presented on PPV. The more budget minded, and those who lean towards higher-weight hitters over the jockey-sized sluggers, will watch Maskaev/Peter on Showtime.
Maskeav is the underdog coming in, as well he should be, as he won his crown from downsliding Hasim Rahman last summer, and defended it against ultra-limited Peter Okhello in December. The last truly legit top 10-15 guy he fought and beat was early-era Rahman, back in 1999, and he was knocked out three times, by Kirk Johnson, Lance Whittaker and Corey Sanders, in a two year span in 2000-2002. That said, that he’s even still campaigning is a feat, and he’s won 12 straight since the Corey Sanders loss in ’02.
He isn’t completely sold on Peter, and that may be wise, as we’re basing much of our positive assessments on the Nigerian off his last two outings. Those were wins against James Toney, who wasn’t in prime condition, even if he was using a banned performance enhancing substance in at least one of those efforts. In his sole other outing against a top 20 fighter, Wladimir Klitschko in September 2005, Peter lost a UD12.
“I don’t know if Peter is tough or not, we will find out soon enough on October 6. We will find out if Peter is overrated really soon,” Maskaev said. “I don’t know what is going to happen, but something will happen, I am going there to win.”
Like I said, not much in the way of verbal sizzle, eh?
Luckily for the ticket-sales, Dennis Rappaport, Maskaev’s handler, can yap a little bit, so he provided some copy.
“People are trying to make Peter the next Mike Tyson, it’s more like Cicely Tyson,” Rappaport said. “As I keep saying this is a true boxing Cinderella story, every time you see a Cinderella story, Cinderella always prevails and Oleg Maskaev will win on October 6.”
Rappaport took a shot at Peter that played on the Nigerian’s physique, which isn’t exactly of the carved variety.
“Maskaev is in shape, Peter is not and Maskaev has ability,” the promoter said. “This is a case of the bull against the matador.”
Peter rose to his own defense, in a fashion, with his counter.
“I will knock him out. As far as Maskaev is concerned, I will give him my message in the ring come October 6 at Madison Square Garden,” Peter said.
His handler, the not-too-shy Ivaylo Gotzev, stepped up to inject some snarly talking points.
“Team Maskaev are on an ego building trip,” he said. “They continue to talk about Maskaev’s Cinderella story, but this Cinderella story is about to come to an end. The clock is going to run out and he will not make it past midnight.”
Dino Duva, Peter’s promoter, then tagged in and continued the assault: “Regarding the Cicely Tyson comparison, that is insulting and just for that, Samuel is going to make sure that Rappaport walks out of MSG after the fight like a sissy.”
He also addressed the conditioning slap.
“If they are counting on Peter not being in shape, they are in for a rude awakening. This is the longest that Samuel has ever been in training camp and he will be in the best shape of his life. Translation, it’s over for Oleg’s Cinderella story.”
I agree. Maskaev’s had an improbable run, and bravo to him for even making it this far after his career was in shambles five years ago. But Peter is too young, too strong, with too much punch and chin, for the older man to deal with. On October 6, Maskaev turns into a pumpkin, and we know what happens to pumpkins in October.