Now that's how you close the show. Pay attention, Klitschkos, because you will need to defend yourself from Samuel Peter sooner or later. On Saturday evening, at Plaza de Toros in Cancun, Mexico, Peter put the hammer to Oleg Maskaev and notched a sixth round TKO win that elevated him to the front of the line for a crack at a Klitschko.
HBO showed the fight, and the chief support bout, Nate Campbell's win over Juan Diaz. By no means was the heavyweight scrap a classic, as Peter and Maskaev's work rate was not stellar. But Peter got Maskaev, no stranger to be being stopped, in trouble, and he finished the job with precision at 2:56 of the sixth.
Peter landed ten unanswered punches as Maskaev had his back to the ropes, with a left hook/right follow/left hook/right follow combo acting as the coup de grace. Maskaev's hands had dropped and thankfully the alert ref came to his rescue.
Peter has tangled with a Klitschko before, in 2005, when he dropped the younger brother three times. But he still lost a decision to Wladimir. Has he improved enough to finish the job against Wlad in a rematch, or send Vitali back to the sidelines?
Peter (29-1 coming in), the 27-year-old Nigerian, weighed in at 250 3/4 pounds. Maskaev (34-5 coming in), age 39, from Russia, weighed 243. He came to the ring wearing a sombrero, to ingratiate himself to the home crowd. He also wore a sly smile, looking totally at ease at the prospect of tangling with the clubbing Peter.
Peter had the WBC interim belt coming in. Maskaev was the WBC champ, who had been inactive since a Dec. 2006 title defense over Peter Okhello. All six of his losses have come by KO. From the safety of the sofa, I'd advise him to bank his take from this fight, and call it a day. His brain has been rattled quite enough.
In the sixth and final round, both fighters tossed some half hearted jabs. A minute to go, both loaded up. Peter hit with three rights, and kept pressing. Maskaev took time to protest behind the head blows. He should have clinched, because Peter kept whacking away. He had Maskaev out on the ropes, and the ref stepped in to save the Russian from blows he could not defend.
In the fifth, we saw a solid back and forth exchange, which wobbled neither man. Peter stole the round with two clubbing rights.
Because of an open scoring policy we heard after the fourth the judges' tallies: 39-37, 39-37, 40-38 all for Peter
In the fourth round, Peter landed a stiff jab to start things off. But he wasn't very busy, as one might imagine he'd want to be against a 39-year-old man. Oleg looked confident at this juncture.
Many folks didn't think we'd see the third round, but indeed we did. Maskaev complained about Peter hitting behind the head. Peter landed a right uppercut and right cross and followed up. He had Oleg covering up, but then backed off. Oleg landed a right/left hook follow that wobbled Peter a tiny bit. Peter then clinched in center ring, and Oleg came back with a right to the chin. Did Oleg even up the round after being in trouble?
In the second round, Maskaev came out jabbing, and got a little sweat going. Peter took his jab out of the holster too. This was no barn burner, but no Klitschko/Ibragimov either.
In the first, Maskaev moved laterally, not wanting to let Peter set and throw. Peter landed a right with a minute left, and perhaps took the round with a couple showy tosses. It was more of a classic feel 'em out round, though.
Peter talked about his KO after the bout: “I hit him [Maskaev] with one and I him with another. Then I crack him up. My jab was good and then I him in the head and break off his head. I knew he was strong so I was careful. I feel great. I could fight again tomorrow. I’m ready for anyone.”
Afterwards, Maskaev talked about the loss and his prospects moving forward. “He [Peter] didn’t knock me out. He shook me and knocked me back and the referee did the right thing. He was hitting me with too many punches. I hurt him a few times, yes, but I wasn’t able to finish him. I can’t blame anybody. It was my fault. My trainers did a good job and I failed tonight. I will be back. My team and I will talk and if they want to make a few more fights we can do it.”
NOTE: In the first draft of this piece, I made the assumption that Peter would be facing Wlad next, or soon. I do know that the WBC has tabbed Vitali their champion emeritus, and has offered him a crack at the title he held briefly in 2004. But I am going out on a limb to say that Vitali's injury history is long and severe. I have serious doubts he will be able to hold his body together long enough to return to the ring for the first time since December 2004.
WBC WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (Mandatory)
TKO 6 – 2:56
OLEG “The Big O” MASKAEV WINNER “The Nigerian Nightmare” SAMUEL PETER
WBC World Champion WBC Interim World Champion
West Sacramento, Calif. (Russia) Las Vegas, Nev. (Nigeria)
34-5 (26 KOs) 29-1 (22 KOs)
243 250 ¾
IBF WORLD LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP (Mandatory)
JUAN “Baby Bull” DIAZ WINNER NATE “Galaxxy Warrior” CAMPBELL
Undefeated IBF, WBA, WBO Champion No.1 IBF Mandatory Challenger
Houston, Tex. Tampa, Fla.
33-0 (17 KOs) 31-5-1 (25 KOs)
134 134 ½
WBC HEAVYWEIGHT QUALIFICATION
WINNER JOHN “The Quietman” RUIZ JAMEEL “Big Time” McCLINE
Former Two-Time World Champion Former NABO Champion
Chelsea, Mass. West Palm Beach, Fla.
42-7-1 (29 KOs) 39-8-3 (23 KOs)
WBC CONTINENTAL AMERICAS SUPER FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
TKO 9 – 2:42
WINNER “Sugar” RAY BELTRAN MOISES “Cucharas” PEREZ
Former FECARBOX Champion Local Battler
Los Mochis, Mexico Cancun, Mexico
21-3 (13 KOs) 6-4 (5 KOs)
INTERNATIONAL & CONTINENTAL AMERICAS LIGHT FLYWEIGHT & NABF FLYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
TKO 4 – 2:16
WINNER GILBERTO “Baby Luis V” KEB BAAS ADRIAN “El Confesor” HERNANDEZ
NABF Champion Undefeated Contender
Merida, YUC, Mexico Toluco, MEX, Mexico
28-16-2 (16 KOs) 12-0 (10 KOs)
KO 1 – 1:12
DAVID “Nino” RODRIGUEZ JOSH “The Griz” GUTCHER
El Paso, Tex. Albia, Iowa
27-0 (25 KOs) 18-8 (13 KOs)
SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT ATTRACTION
ANTONIO “Tony” FITCH MANUEL “La Mamba” GARCIA
Cancun, Mexico Cuidad de Carmen, Mexico
9-1 (9 KOs) 6-1-1 (2 KOs)
140 ½ 140
KO 2 – 2:11
SALVADOR SANCHEZ ALEJANDRO ROMERO
Mexico City, Mexico Mexico City, Mexico
9-3-2 (4 KOs) 6-4-1 *
WBC HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP – MASKAEV vs. PETER
Supervisor: Rex Walker, Colorado
Referee: Guadelupe Garcia, Mexico
Judges: Ken Morita, Japan 49-46 P
Herminio Cuevas, Mex. 50-47 P
Daniel Van de Wiele, Bel. 49-46 P
IBF LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP – DIAZ vs. CAMPBELL
Supervisor: Al Lucas, New Jersey
Referee: Jesus Salcedo Lopez, Mexico
Judges: Ric Bays, Fla. 114-113 D
Jose “Joe” Garcia, Ariz. 116-111 C
Bill Clancy, N.C. 115-112 C
WBC HEAVYWEIGHT QUALIFICATION BOUT – RUIZ vs. McCLINE
Supervisor: Bob Lenhardt, Texas
Referee: Laurence Cole, Texas
Judges: Julie Lederman, N.Y. 119-109 R
Guillermo Ayon, Mex. 117-111 R
Manuel Cervantes, Mex. 118-110 R
WBC CONTINENTAL AMERICAS SUPER FEATHERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP – BELTRAN vs. PEREZ
Supervisor: Joe Dwyer, New York
Referee: Gelasio Perez, Mex.
Judges: Omar Minton, Mex.
Jesus Frosa, Mex.
Steve Blea, Colo.
WBC INT. & CONT. AM. LIGHT FLYWEIGHT & NABF FLYWEIGHT TITLE – KEB BAAS vs. HERNANDEZ
Supervisor: Joe Dwyer, New York
Referee: Daniel Van de Wiele, Belgium
Judges: Julie Lederman, N.Y. 30-25 H
Raul Ortega, Mex. 30-25 H
Jesus Erosa, Mex. 30-25 H