Klitschko and Peter square off in crossroads bout
By Julian Kasdin (September 23, 2005)  
Photo © HoganPhotos.com
On Saturday night the current and former heir apparent of the heavyweight division will collide when Wladimir ‘Steel Hammer’ Klitschko, 44-3 (40), squares off against rising star Samuel ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Peter, 24-0 (21), in a battle of heavy hitters. This is a fight that promises fireworks, knockdowns, and will not reach the final bell. Either Peter will stake his claim to the throne, or Klitschko will usurp it, either way this is a fight for the fans and one that we want to see.

Three years ago Wladimir Klitschko looked unbeatable, having demolished giant Jameel McCline, iron chinned Ray Mercer, perennial gatekeeper Franz Botha, current IBF title holder Chris Byrd, and top contender Monte Barrett, all of them with relative ease. The only hiccup in this long list of dominating performances was when he punched himself out against Ross Puritty, a fight that saw Klitschko throwing 900 punches and run out of steam before the final bell. But one fateful night in Hanover, Germany, Klitschko’s career would begin a downward spiral. The night started out badly, with Wladimir being called Vitali during fighter introductions, and would end even worse. Klitschko fought South African power puncher Corrie Sanders on this night, and less then six minutes after the first bell Klitschko would be dropped four times and lose by second round TKO. The younger Klitschko did not know how to react to getting rocked; instead of tying up he proceeded to slug it out with the hard punching South African, thus sealing his fate. Klitschko would win two confidence building fights after this, only to punch himself out and collapse against Lamon Brewster. This fight was followed by a lackluster performance against DaVaryyl Williamson that saw Klitschko hitting the canvas again en route to a fifth round TD. His most recent fight was against overmatched Cuban prospect Eliseo Castillo, which resulted in a shutout fourth round TKO win for Klitschko.

Klitschko is probably the most gifted heavyweight in the division; he has great speed, bone crunching power, height and size, and is able to throw combinations that no-one else his size can. Unfortunately he seems to lack confidence and a chin, which is what makes this fight against Peter so interesting. Klitschko has to fight tall, like Lennox Lewis, using his piston like jab and jackhammer right hand to keep Peter on the outside. He has to keep his distance and make Peter pay every time the younger man attempts to come in. Klitschko also has to cover up, and clinch Peter when he gets in close, which is when Peter does most of his damage. Klitschko has awesome power, and very few heavyweights can resist it, and it is this power that can be used to keep Peter on the outside and unable to do damage. Klitschko must also conserve his energy and not worry, throw punches in bunches when he is pressured, and he should fight in much the same manner he did against Castillo.

Samuel Peter is young, only 25 years old, and is currently the division’s hottest prospect. He is built like a tank, and possesses fight changing power. His first real step up in competition came against Jose Arimatea de Silva, who he obliterated in two rounds. He followed that performance up with two ten round decision wins over Charles Shufford and Jovo Pudar, fights where Peter looked to be a limited one dimensional fighter. This perception changed when in his next fight when he viciously knocked out Jeremy Williams in two rounds. He followed this up with similar destructions of Yanqui Diaz, Gilbert Martinez and Taurus Sykes. As of yet Peter has not fought any truly hard hitting heavyweights, nor has he fought anyone of the caliber of Klitschko. Most of his recent opponents have been smaller heavies that do not possess much in the way of punching power. Still, Peter has done what he has had to do, and demolished the lower tier fighters. Now Peter is taking his biggest step up by fighting the younger of the Klitschko brothers. If he wins he will officially become the division’s heir apparent, and also garner a shot at either the IBF or WBO titles. Peter has undeniable power, but has an untested chin, and seems to lack speed, footwork, defense, or straight sharp shots. What Peter does have is a come forward pressure style that is hard for many heavyweights to counteract.

Samuel Peter needs to press forward, much like Lamon Brewster, and bang away at Klitschko’s body early. Peter isn’t fast, he isn’t polished, and he doesn’t have the movement of any version of Mike Tyson, but what he does have is mass and an unrelenting attack. If he can come in and pressure Klitschko he can unnerve the giant Ukrainian, possibly causing him to tire out. Peter can also go for the early KO by gunning for Klitschko’s chin early, which seems to be his likely approach, which could make this upcoming Saturday a very short night. Peter will have to take a lot of heat in order to get inside and thus far only the most iron chinned and courageous fighters have been able to withstand it. Puritty had never been stopped until his fight with Vitali Klitschko, and Brewster had to get up off the canvas to defeat an exhausted Wladimir Klitschko, and Peter will have to have the chin and will of these two fighters in order to survive Klitschko the younger’s possible early onslaught.

This fight will probably start out with Klitschko pumping the jab trying to keep Peter on the outside. Peter will try to pressure early, probably with some success, but Klitschko should be able to tie him up and return to jabbing and landing from a distance. As the fight wears on one of two things will happen, either Peter will put on the same lackluster performance he did against Shufford and Pudar, or Klitschko will collapse like he did against Brewster. This fight has been very hard for me to pick, and I might change my mind a minute before the first bell rings. If Peter knocks out Klitschko early it really will not tell us anything about Peter, aside from what we already know, but if the fight goes a few rounds and Peter gets tested and wins then we learn a lot. At the end of the day Peter is a very limited technically and even his physical attributes come up short – he is slow and plodding, and punches like straight shots simply do not exists in his arsenal. Klitschko is too technically solid, too strong, and much better then Pudar and Shufford, two fighters that were able to take Peter the distance. I tend to think that the real Peter is the one that could not demolish these two, and that as the fight goes on, as long as Klitschko‘s stamina holds up, that he will bludgeon Peter from the outside with blistering combinations, especially the one-two. In the end Wladimir Klitschko should win this fight by mid to late round TKO, and the next big thing will become the latest bust as the heavyweight division foolishly continues trying to anoint an heir.
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