Nigerian Nightmare or Bullish Dream?
By Scott Mallon (July 2, 2005)  
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“There’s too much mess in the heavyweight division, so we’re going to start sweeping.” – Samuel Peter’s manager, Ivalyo Gotzev

Everybody who’s anybody who knows boxing will be tuning in to Showtime this Saturday night. A largely untested Samuel ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Peter takes on an equally unproven Taurus ‘The Bull’ Sykes in Reno, Nevada for the NABA, NABF and USBA heavyweight titles. With 20 KOS in his 23 fights, there can be no denying Peter is a KO specialist and this match-up may be yet another step towards proving his case he is the future of the heavyweight division. He’s big (6’2, 245 lbs), he’s strong but he’s also an extremely raw talent.

Peter is closing in on the big time and he brings to the table what it takes to get boxing fans excited; he has frightening knockout power. Whether or not he can really fight or is just a big man with a big punch has yet to be revealed. His first task at hand is to handle his business with Taurus Sykes and handle it impressively. He’s only gone over five rounds three times in his career and at some point he is going to need to get some rounds in. Sykes may be the fighter who can give him some rounds. Contrary to Peter, he’s gone over eight rounds seven times and definitely has the stamina to go the distance. If he is able to take Peter to the later rounds he may have a chance at proving his own case.

Most fans however don’t want to see a light-punching heavyweight dancing around the ring; they want to see explosive knockouts. Mike Tyson remained popular for as long as he did for one reason and one reason only; he had the ability to end a fight in a split second. Peter is also a fighter who has the innate ability to separate an opponent from his consciousness and this always brings a level of excitement to his fights.

Both Peter and Sykes have gone relatively unnoticed until now and this fight should be the coming out party for at least one of them. Sykes is a crafty boxer who will try to exploit the inexperience of Peter. The training habits of Peter are also questionable and it remains to be seen what will happen if he is forced to go 12 rounds. Peter was however an Olympian and the U.S.A. Today 2004 Fighter of the Year and has steadily made progress up the professional heavyweight ladder. Defeating Taurus Sykes decisively on Showtime raises his exposure and helps maintain his march to the title so getting the ‘W’ is vital.

By his own admission Taurus Sykes plans on out boxing his slightly larger Nigerian opponent. Whether or not he is able to implement his plan is another story. As Mike Tyson once said, “everybody has a plan until they get hit.” Sykes has a mere 6 KO’s in 25 fights but anytime a 235 lb. fighter whacks his opponent on the chin, there is always a chance he may put them to sleep. He claims he won’t run from Peter so at some point he’s going to have to stand and fight. When he does it might just be when his nightmare begins.

Promoter Dino Duva is skilled at choosing opponents for his fighters and Taurus Sykes is tailor made for his man. He seems to have little power and is probably not the fighter who’s going to push Peter to do a gut-check. If Peter can’t get past ‘The Bull’, he’ll then have a long and rocky road ahead of him and will no longer be thought of by some as ‘the next great heavyweight’. If he does get past Sykes, it’s time for him to take on someone in the top ten or fifteen. There he can further prove himself and possibly hit the jackpot financially.

Although he is still a relatively green prospect, he did manage to get past experienced trial horse Marion Wilson in only his 8th fight and knocked out veterans Terry Porter and Dale Crowe a few fights later. Perhaps an opponent along the lines of Calvin Brock or Ray Austin would serve his purpose. He has a good shot at beating either of these fighters and a win would put him in the top ten and hopefully draws him within striking range of a title shot.

Will Peter go on to become the first African heavyweight champion of the world? Can he become the next great heavyweight? Will he follow in the footsteps of other successful African fighters like Dick Tiger, John Mugabi and Azumah Nelson or will he fall short like chronic underachievers Alfred Kotey, David Izon or Friday Ahunanya? Will he get stuck in a holding pattern like Kassim Ouma with no one wanting to fight him? Does he have the self-control to stay in the gym, stay out of trouble and stay focused? It’s too soon to say whether or not Peter is destined for greatness. Many questions need to be answered and hopefully at least some of them will be on Saturday night.

Prediction for Peter vs. Sykes

I don’t Sykes him being able to keep Peter off once the fight settles in and he starts slowing down. Peter will catch up with Sykes around the 5th stanza and begin administering the beat down. Sykes will weather the initial storm but in round six a big shot will put him down and out. Peter KO7 Sykes.
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