Sharkie’s Machine: Vitali Klitschko Returns and Destroys Samuel Peter
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (Oct 14, 2008)  
Anyone who saw the return of Vitali Klitschko Saturday night in his fight against WBC Heavy Weight titlist Sam Peter at the O2 World Arena in Berlin, could see that Vitali’s seamless performance, even after a four year hiatus, was the better than anything to be found from any of today’s crop of Heavyweights, including his younger brother Wladimir, who has high quality boxing skills but fights in a timid, ‘afraid to get hit’ style that’s often unexciting. Unlike Wladimir, Vitali fights like a bouncer being interviewed; with conviction and a dominant attitude.

Against Sam Peter (30-3, 23 KO’s), Vitali Klitschko (37-2, 36 KO’s) used his jab like a surgeon, as he calmly threw left hooks and follow up rights with stunning precision in his domination over Peter. This was about as one-sided a fight as they come, with Klitschko doing all the scoring and Peter taking a beating.

As the rounds progressed, Klitschko often left his hands down low and was breathing through his mouth, suggesting some fatigue but he still managed to hammer Peter with relative ease. Sam Peter is a big man but he looked like a little tomato can against the six and a half foot tall Ukrainian. In the eighth round, Klitschko punished Peter with crushing right hands and left hooks that saw Peter wisely quit on his stool. After losing badly for eight straight rounds, why get seriously hurt when you can come fight again another day?

Peter has been inconsistent in recent years. He did improve his boxing skills some after two fights against the slick James Toney, who Peter beat by being the busier fighter. Peter watched his new found skills disappear in a tough fight against perennial contender, Jameel McCline, who put Peter on his seat three times and yet still managed to lose the decision, as Mc Cline didn’t do enough in the subsequent rounds. Peter’s best assets are his power and tenacity as a brawler, but his Achilles heel is a porous defense. Vitali Klitschko capitalized on that weakness last Saturday and turned the brawling Peter into a human punching bag. I felt bad for Peter, watching him get so beat up, while trying so hard to even land a single punch.

After the beating Peter took Saturday, it’s going to take a lot of work to get him back into good fighting form. If Vitali retires again, Peter’s chances to win another title will improve considerably. But regardless of what Vitali does, this was a damaging loss for Peter. A beating like that is difficult to come back from and Peter may never be the same.

I wonder what Ruslan Chagaev thought about Vitali’s comeback performance. Maybe Chagaev can retire temporarily, due to health reasons that might enable him to get ‘emeritus status’ so he can come back as soon as Vitali retires again.

What other HW out there can deal with Vitali Klitschko? Valuev, Dimitrenko, Ibragimov, Gomez, Arreola? C’mon, let’s get serious here. In the absence of Lennox Lewis, who is rightfully retired and not coming back, there really is no one for the technically sound and brutal Vitali to fight that is even capable of making it competitive.

The Klitschko brother’s dream has come true—both are “World champions” at the same time. As such, Vitali has little reason outside of money for staying un-retired.

On a less fluffy note, it IS controversial that Vitali could disappear for four years and come back with the same status he enjoyed when he left boxing almost half a decade ago. Did he deserve to maintain ‘emeritus’ champion status for as long as four years? How do you surrender your title and then come back after so long and be given an automatic title shot? There was a bit of bad blood regarding the WBC belt during the promotional lead up to this fight. Clearly Vitali has powerful friends in the upper echelons of boxing’s power elite. Peter had to feel a bit slighted since he’s a guy who earned that same title by beating Oleg Maskaev last year, which was three years since Vitali had retired.

It’s unfair to all the other HW contenders that have worked hard to be in the top positions of the rankings in aspiration for a title shot. Unfortunately, the rankings system in boxing is not based on merit; it’s based on the power of promoters and the politics of commercial interests. Hey, boxing is not so much a ‘sport’ in the conventional sense, as it is a business. So regarding whether or not Vitali deserved a title shot in his first fight in four years reminds me of a line from Clint Eastwood’s character in the film “Unforgiven,” where before putting a bullet into the head of a protesting Little Bill (Gene Hackman) Clint said, “Deserves got nothing to do with it.” We live in a, “it is what it is” kind of society these days. Nobody has the cojones to challenge the way things are and so, things remain as they are.

Ironically, undeserving circumstances turns out to be a good thing sometimes. It was refreshing to see a bad-ass HW make an appearance after so many years of blah…Vitali Klitschko looked like the toughest man in the HW division Saturday, fighting with smoothly cultivated boxing skills and maliciously using his height and lengthy reach to administer punishment to his shorter, lesser skilled opponent. Paul Williams could learn a thing or two watching Vitali make such effective use of his natural asset of height.

Sam Peter is a tough man. He’s got big power and a pretty good chin too, in spite of being floored thrice by the usually benevolent Jameel Mc Cline. Against Vitali Klitschko, Peter was rendered completely ineffectual by the long jab of Vitali and the punishing right hands that followed. In all of eight rounds, I can’t think of a single clean shot that Peter landed. He couldn’t get inside, he couldn’t avoid Klitschko’s jab and frankly, Peter couldn’t do much of anything without getting slugged trying. I felt sorry for Peter! Vitali made it look so easy. Peter’s corner and his own sense of self preservation kicked in after eight rounds of being battered by VK and the rest is history.

Congratulations to the renewed WBC titlist, Vitali Klitschko, who has fulfilled his dream of being a World Champion at the same time as his younger brother Wladimir, who possesses the IBF and WBO versions of the title. As Vitali mentioned during the post fight interview with Steve Farhood, “There’s still another title out there that’s not in the Klitschko family—the WBA title.” Ruslan Chagaev owns that strap…for now.

Chagaev has been out of action since last January as a result of injuries. He is not scheduled to fight anyone and as such, the WBA belt remains in limbo. Will the powers that be enable Vitali to challenge Chagaev as soon as Ruslan’s ready to return to the ring? Why not? If you want to be the best, you have to fight the best and clearly, Vitali Klitschko is the best fighter in the HW division.

Of course Vitali and Wladimir would never fight each other and that’s not a problem in today’s boxing, since there are no Unification fights anymore anyway. That said, I don’t see anyone out there capable of seriously challenging Vitali. David Haye can talk all the hay he wants but he best stay far away from Vitali Klitschko or he’ll become a memory quickly forgotten.

Considering the fulfilled dream of dual championship with his brother and the lame landscape at HW, this would be a great time for Vitali to retire again. I hope he don’t retire too soon, because he’s the only guy in the division that brings excitement to the ever dull Heavyweight division.

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