Boxing

Joshua Clottey and Samuel Peter: Are They Overrated?

07.04.07 - By Paul Vincent: As everyone is already aware, Joshua Clottey and Samuel Peter are both very good, up-and-coming fighters. Of the two, Clottey is by far the more skilled, better-conditioned and all-around superior fighter. But Peter is certainly not without his assets, as his 22 KO’s in 29 fights attest. So what is the common theme between these two men, separated by 100 lbs. and numerous divisions?

They are both, unfortunately, overrated, in my personal opinion, and each man has so far failed to live up to the great expectations put upon them by their own fans and by fans of the sport of boxing.

It’s not necessarily their own fault that each is overrated. Peter did not consistently walk around and repeatedly claim that he was the greatest heavyweight of the current era. Nor did Clottey claim he was the best 147-pounder on the planet, at least not constantly,

No, those job of overrated each man was left to fans and promoters, and each group has certainly more than held up their end of the bargain.

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Samuel Peter: After amassing a 23-0 record (which included 20 KO’s), many hailed Peter as the next “savior” of the heavyweight ranks. Here was a fighter who had size, power and seemed built to have an excellent chin. Though his competition had not been very stiff, many boxing writers and enthusiasts jumped on Peter’s bandwagon. The ride would be short-lived.

Wladimir Klitschko dominated Samuel Peter for 10 of the 12 rounds of their September 24, 2005 contest. Though, Klitschko suffered three knockdowns in the fight, many fight observers felt that at least two of the three knockdowns were the result of Peter “rabbit punches,” i.e., punches which Peter landed to the back of Klitschko’s head.

Wladimir Klitschko - who has never been counted out in any of his professional fights, despite his reputation of having a “weak” chin - was never in serious trouble, and he weathered Peter’s crude assault on way to his nearly stopping Peter in the 12th round, courtesy of a powerful hook.

In the one-and-a-half years since his dismantling at the hands of Klitschko, Peter has scored one knockout in four fights (over the painfully overmatched Julius Long), a far cry from the “Knockout Artist” label he was given pre-Klitschko.

Many, including this author, believe Peter got a gift decision in his first fight with bloated middleweight James Toney. The WBC agreed, as they ordered a rematch to the title eliminator. Though, Peter did win that fight (his last one), how much of it was his “improvement” and how much of it was the overfed Toney’s age and weight catching up with him is the source of much debate.

Peter’s fans wait for their man to roll through the supposedly overmatched WBC Champion Oleg Maskaev in a fight to be held this year. Though, Maskaev, 37, is aging and has shown to be susceptible to the knockout, he has also shown that he is more than capable of delivering the KO. One thing is for sure, however,Maskaev will come in shape. The same cannot be definitively said about Peter, given his track record.

How is Peter overrated: Sam Peter is a talented, strong-willed heavyweight who possesses and excellent chin and outstanding punching power. He is, however, not a very skilled boxer, and he does not seem to take his training seriously, as his ballooning weight can attest. He is certainly not the “savior” of the division some hoped he would be, and it remains to be seen if he can obtain and hold any of the four major belts. So far, Peter has done very little to live up to the hype generated pre-Klitschko. I personally see Peter as a poor man’s version of Ray Mercer - that is, excellent power, tough chin, but not incredibly skilled. Mercer is superior because he was almost always in condition, and his skill level and chin were superior.

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Joshua Clottey - Joshua Clottey has not suffered from the chronic overrating which has plagued Sam Peter for several years. Clottey’s overhyping, on the contrary, is due to one particular fight. And in true overrated fashion, it was, fittingly, a fight which he lost which began the Clottey bandwagon‘s massive build-up in steam.

Clottey dominated the first four rounds of his December 2, 2006 WBO boxing title fight with rugged belt holder Antonio Margarito. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

Unfortunately for Clottey and the members of his bandwagon, the contest was scheduled for 12 rounds.

Clottey has said that he broke his hand (or knuckle) before (or during) the fight with Margarito. Though I don’t doubt some injury occurred before/during the fight and/or was aggravated during the fight, Clottey’s and his camp’s inability to give a consistent answer on the matter has not helped Clottey’s standing any in the public’s eye. Margarito supposedly suffered a wrist injury during the fight as well.

Whatever the health status of the two fighters before and during the fight, one thing was clear - after the 4th round, the notoriously slow-starting Margarito completely took over the fight on his way to winning a unanimous boxing decision. The judges cards read: 116-112 (twice) and 118-109.

This fight - this unanimous decision loss - one in which no card had him within 4 points of the victor - has been the source of an incredible amount of ‘hyping’ for Joshua Clottey. Whether it was something which Clottey fans saw in their fighter or whether it was a backlash against Margarito for unsuccessfully getting Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring I’m not certain, but the hype floodwaters began in earnest well before Clottey had actually lost to Margarito.

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Some losses justify the “hyping up” of the losing fighter. One example of this phenomenon is when Vitali Klitschko lost to Lennox Lewis. There are several differences between Vitali’s loss to Lewis and that of Clottey’s loss to Margarito:

#1 - Vitali led the fight when on all 3 cards when it was stopped; Clottey led on none at the end of his fight (i.e., when his fight was ‘stopped‘).

#2 - Vitali clearly suffered his injury (cut) during the fight, and had he been permitted to continue, he would have continued. Clottey was able to continue, and he lost. Vitali was not able to have that opportunity, thus making the demand for a rematch much more understandable in Vitali’s circumstance.

#3 - Vitali was fighting a man who had not only been KO’d, but who had been 1-punch KO’d. Vitali possessed a 91% KO ratio for his career coming into the fight. Vitali not only had never been stopped in his 34 fights prior to Lewis, he had never been of his feet and he had never been cut, either. There are many sound, logical reasons to think Vitali Klitschko would not only have won his fight, but won his fight by KO. Clottey, however, was fighting a man who had never been KO’d, never been off his feet, and in many boxing writer’s estimation hadn’t lost a fight legitimately in about a decade. There is not nearly the evidence to support a different Clottey outcome against Margarito as there is a Vitali win against Lewis.

All loses are not created equal.

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Regardless of any facts or reason, the Clottey hype machine kicked into overdrive following his unanimous decision loss to Margarito. Cries of “He would have beaten Margarito if he was healthy” and the like went up. There were even preposterous claims that “Clottey would have knocked Margarito out,” despite all the fighters’ history to the contrary.

None of that would derail the “Clottey Express.” And even a veteran boxing writer and fan as the author got a bit taken with the hype leading into last night’s Clottey-Corrales tilt. As almost all other boxing media/fans, I expected Clottey to make short work of the long-in-the-tooth, ring-wise Corrales. That’s what the Clottey Hype told me would happen, and I had allowed myself to believe it, foolishly.

Ten rounds later, Clottey was, indeed, the victor. And in dominating fashion. But the reality fell far short of the hype. Let’s take a look at some facts and their corresponding conclusions from last night’s fight:

Fact #1 -> A 170 - 170! - lbs. Clottey could not knock out a guy who was stopped three times at weights of 135 or less.

Conclusion #1 -> Clottey is not a big puncher, and anyone who thinks he had a prayer of knocking out the never-once-down-in-his-career Margarito is fooling themselves, badly.
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Fact #2 -> Chico had some good moments against Clottey, despite the fact that he was fighting at a weight two divisions higher than he had ever fought previously.

Conclusion #2 -> If Clottey had some ‘moments’ with Chico, Clottey is not ready for the elite welterweights of the world. No one jumps up two divisions and hangs around - in a brawling style, no less - unless the man they are fighting is not top-flight. Even the amazingly-talented Floyd Mayweather Jr. has never accomplished jumping two weight divisions in one fight and managing to brawl with an opponent and last the fight. Clottey is good, but he’s not elite, at least not yet.
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Fact #3 -> Clottey is a middleweight fighting at Welterweight.

Conclusion #3 -> I was stunned he weighed 170. He’s looking like Cotto coming in 23 lbs. over the 147 limit. How long can he keep this up? Many of Margarito’s detractor’s say this about AM all the time. Well, now you Have a new target for your disgust - Joshua Clottey.

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More could be said, but that is a quick sketch of what we learned about Joshua Clottey in the wake of last night’s fight against Diego Corrales. To summarize, Clottey is a huge welterweight who does not carry the corresponding power of such a big man. He was unable to KO a guy with a very suspect chin who was jumping up two divisions for his first fight at welterweight.

Given the massive hype around Clottey, I was disappointed in the result. Had I not bought ‘The Hype,’ however, I would probably have felt good about a rising prospect who solidly defeated a ‘name’ guy in Chico.

How is Clottey ‘overhyped:‘ Joshua Clottey lost a wide UD to Antonio Margarito in December of 2006. Margarito had not fought a year before taking that fight, and Margarito was understandably rusty at the beginning. Once Margarito found his rhythm and adjusted to Clottey’s style, he dominated the fight and won easily. There are no 4-round championship fights in boxing. How bad either man was injured before/during the fight is anyone’s guess, but what is beyond doubt is that Margarito essentially shut-out Clottey from the 5th round on in their contest.

Clottey could have capitalized on and validated his hype against Corrales last night, but what we instead learned about him is that: he is not a puncher, and he never had a chance of knocking out Margarito; he is a huge welterweight, and he might struggle in the future to make the 147 limit; he is not yet (if he ever will be) an elite welterweight. Being unable to take out a guy jumping 2 divisions, and a guy with a very questionable chin, does not bode well for Clottey’s future prospects in the welterweight or higher divisions.

He seems to have some stamina issues as well, and since he is not a big puncher, he better be in great condition or he will be stopped by an aggressive slugger or out-boxed by a superior ring technician. All things considered, I was not impressed with Clottey’s performance against Chico Corrales. There was nothing either in his fight with Margarito or his performance last night to suggest that he could seriously challenge Margarito for a full 12 rounds, and it almost goes without saying that Floyd Mayweather Jr. would easily out-box him. He is not among the elite in the division, at least not yet.

* * *

Samuel Peter and Joshua Clottey are two of the more recent examples of boxing’s age-old overrating phenomenon. As the title of this article alludes to, they are far from the only victims of such hyperbole. Future editions of the overrated Fighters series will look at similarly overvalued fighters, past and present.

A large part of boxing’s appeal through the decades is the hype which fighters receive, and which fans thrust upon their favorites. Promoters deal in hype, without hype there are no sold tickets, no purchased PPV’s. Oftentimes fighters cannot live up to the hype, for one reason or another. When that happens, look for a new chapter of overrated Fighters.

Until then, keep your gloves taped and protect yourself at all times.

Any feedback for the author can be either posted in the comments section or directed to: paulfv@hotmail.com. Thank you.

Article posted on 08.04.2007



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