Sam Peter/Jameel McCline Showtime Conference Call Transcript

Photo by Tom Casino / Showtime -- Hard hitting, recently crowned WBC interim heavyweight champion Samuel "The Nigerian Nightmare'' Peter (28-1, 22 KOs) defends his new title against Jameel "Big Time'' McCline (38-7-3, 23 KOs) Saturday, Oct. 6, on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast)..

The event is promoted by Don King Productions in association with Madison Square Garden and Duva Boxing. Tickets priced at $400, $250, $150, $100 and $50 are on sale at the Garden box office and all Ticketmaster locations or by calling Ticketmaster at 212-307-7171, 201-507-8900, 631-888-9000, or 914-454-3388. Ticketmaster purchases are subject to convenience charges.

Opening statements

Peter: Thank you very much. I thank God for this opportunity now taken over as heavyweight champion. I thank SHOWTIME for being there and Madison Square Garden. I am glad to have the chance to be heavyweight champion. I know it's all about timing and this is my chance. I am happy.

Question: Has it been hard for you to stay focused through training?

Peter: Never. I'm now taking over as new heavyweight champion of the world. It will be like just like it was before. All this taking over is just making a lot of noise. We're doing all we're supposed to be doing as heavyweight champion preparing for a big fight.

Question: I think doing what he's supposed to do as a heavyweight is also Jameel McCline. Jameel, the challenger, thank you for being part of this conference call and of course for stepping up and taking this big fight. Can we have some opening comments from you?

McCline: It's been a wonderful, wonderful turn of events. I'm very excited. I'm happy. This is what I live for. This is what I've trained all these years for. This will be my 12th year in the business and my fourth title fight. So I have the experience, I have the dedication. And I've been in camp for so long. I've been training for 14 weeks because I'm supposed to fight ‑‑ I was supposed to fight Klitschko September 22nd. When he pulled out, I met with Don King and I got put on the undercard of the Sam Peter-Maskaev card which I was happy to be on. I was set to fight DaVarryl Williamson. Once Maskaev pulled out with a back injury, I was asked to step in. I gladly did so. This is what I do for a living. This is what we all live for. This is what we all dream about, all of us involved, the lawyers, the managers, promoters, every championship in the world is what everyone dreams about and everyone wants to be involved in. So it's my pleasure. This is more of a pleasure than an opportunity or a risk or anything of that sort. It's very, very enlightening for me to step in at the last minute and compete for the WBC heavyweight championship of the world against such a great fighter as Sam Peter. I'm grateful to God for being here and I'm very, very happy at the same time.

Question: Is it different to train for a guy like Klitschko and then find out you're going to face Sam Peter? Do you have to change things in your training camp very much or is it similar?

McCline: You know, obviously you have to change things because you have a different man in front of you. And if anyone tells you any different, then they're not telling you the truth. The truth is that when you fight, when you're training to fight a fixed game technical fighter and it changes to a different kind of guy who is more of a brawler, more of a puncher, more of a finisher, then, of course, you have to address different issues. You have to address different tactical situations, how you're going to deal with certain situations during the fight. So, yes, it's a little different. And by the same token it didn't cause any disruption, but it did require some realignment of strategy.

Duva: I would like to thank everyone for this great event on Saturday. We're ecstatic that the WBC did the right thing and named Samuel Peter the interim champion. And before long that's going to be permanent champion. And we're ecstatic that Jameel McCline was ready, willing and able to enter into this great opportunity for himself. This is for the WBC heavyweight championship. Make no mistake about it. And it's going to be a great night Saturday night. We have a great undercard, and we're just all really excited that despite Maskaev pulling out we've been able to put together a show which I think is even better and we're really happy about it.

Question: What's your feeling on that "interim" tag?

Peter: I feel great. I'm the world champion. Remember when I fought the championship? I remember that it was twice, fought 24 rounds between September and January. So being heavyweight champion, I'm fine. I'm taking over what I'm supposed to do.

Question: Dino, what's your thoughts on Maskaev pulling out with a back injury; do you think that's a legitimate claim?

Duva: Well, look, I have to take his word that he's injured. I have some serious concerns and issues with the way they handled the whole matter. I gotta believe Maskaev is the really hurt. But his promoter, Dennis Rappaport, even went on record saying he actually got diagnosed with this and got hurt almost three weeks earlier. Why did they wait until they did to pull out of the fight? And I think there's some underhanded reasons for that. And that's very troubling to me. But the fact is that I believe Maskaev is hurt. I don't believe they acted in good faith in the way they handled the whole situation. But the most important thing is, as an outcome of this, is that Samuel Peter is the heavyweight champion as far as I'm concerned. Obviously right now the title is interim. But this is the beginning of the Samuel Peter era of the heavyweight division. We know we have a great, great fighter that Samuel's facing Saturday night. I look at this as a tougher fight than Maskaev would have been. So this is a great fight. And, like I say, I don't know how much good faith they showed, especially Dennis Rappaport, with the way they handled this thing, but it is what it is. And I think whatever happened, they seriously damaged their fighter. But that's not our concern right now. All our concern is this fight Saturday night and Sam being named interim champion?

Question: What do you think it's done to the promotion, Dino?

Duva: Jameel McCline is a New York fighter. With Maskaev there was a Russian element that obviously has a market. But Jameel McCline has always been one of the best ticket sellers in New York. So I don't think it affects the promotion one bit. If anything, I think it helps it.

Question: Jameel, do you think it's a tougher fight, that you provide a tougher challenge than Maskaev would have provided for Peter?

McCline: I can't answer that question honestly. I can say I'm a good fighter and I'm prepared. And I'm willing to do whatever it takes to be champion. Am I a tougher fighter? I don't really know.

Question: Dino, could you elaborate on why you think this is a tougher fight for Samuel?

Duva: Number one, size. Jameel McCline's size will always present a problem ‑‑ issues ‑‑ maybe not a problem, but issues, on just the sheer physical size of his reach and everything. That's one. Especially when Sam was training for a shorter fighter. He had to get a quick sparring partner the last week who was taller. But that's an issue. And, look, the bottom line is I know Jameel McCline. He knows how to fight. He's big. He knows how to box. I mean the man can fight. He's an excellent fighter. Combine that with his size, and Jameel is always going to be a tough fight. I look at this as a tougher fight just because of those facts.

Question: Samuel, what kind of different challenges did Jameel present to you and how tough was it for you to just have one week of sparring against the bigger guy to prepare for a 6‑6, 270‑pound heavy weight?

Peter: Doesn't matter to me. We'll see on Saturday.

Question: Can you talk about the moons kind of being aligned here for you and getting a fourth chance to fight for a heavyweight title and what that means to you?

McCline: All I can say is God is good to me. I've been written off so many times in this business, but my mental fortitude and my resilience just keeps coming to the forefront. I’m not willing to give up for any reason other than retirement as the heavyweight champion.

Question: What would it mean to be able to win the heavyweight championship of the world being you are from New York and to do it again there against a fighter like Peter?

McCline: Winning at The Garden is not as significant as beating a great fighter like Sam Peter. He is a tough kid, young, strong and full of a lot of fire right now. So fighting at The Garden is not as important as beating Samuel Peter and the competition of the whole thing. If it were in South Africa, if it were in Canada, Montreal, it doesn't really matter.

Question: Wanted to ask you about your knee injury in the last fight. Exactly what was it, what was the rehab process and how does it feel now?

McCline: What happened in the Valuev fight, going at the ending of the third round, I blew what is called my patella tendon. And it's a very important tendon that holds the top of the leg to the bottom of the leg. Without that, the leg just simple does not work. So it was a devastating injury. Like I said, it goes to show how my mental fortitude and my resilience both as an athlete and as a man, how training, the rehab process is both rigorous and painful. But I thank God it was strong, stronger than ever. The knee was not even one bit of an issue during training. It's 100 percent healed.

Question: What does it feel like to be in a fight now where you can advance your career, become the heavyweight champion and let everybody know that you may be the guy in the heavyweight division?

Peter: On Saturday everything will be announced. You will see it on Saturday. Saturday will tell.

Question: Dino, it's been frustrating for you to get to this point. Do you think now maybe all the trouble is behind you? Not the trouble, but the frustration of trying to get Sam the title.

Duva: Absolutely. I mean the fact is the WBC has named Sam interim champion, which to me is just going to be a formality until he's named permanent champion. Obviously he has to win Saturday night against Jameel, and we take nothing for granted against Jameel. But the bottom line is, in my opinion, the Samuel Peter heavyweight championship era begins Saturday. And I'll tell you, I'm hoping and expecting Samuel to win Saturday night. If that happens, one thing I can promise everybody is that no Russians, no fighters are ever going to delay Samuel Peter's career again. Samuel Peter wants to be a fighting champion. It starts Saturday night against Jameel McCline, and we are not going to allow anyone to ever delay his career again like has happened in the past year. I believe we have the total support of the WBC, the boxing public, the media. If it was up to Samuel, he would defend his title five times a year. We're going to do everything we can to make sure he never gets delayed again. Maskaev demanded the change in ring and now he's not even getting into it.

Question: You're saying that that ring could have been ‑‑ this fight could have been the last fight at The Garden at the old ‑‑

Duva: The fact is there was a legendary ring that got retired, but now there's a new legendary ring. I think it's just as important for Samuel Peter and Jameel, too, to fight the first world championship fight in the new legendary ring. And it's certainly going to become a new legendary ring. No doubt about it. Madison Square Garden boxing is here to stay. And the fact is they're going to christen the new ring which will be a legendary ring.

Question: Sam, considering all of the events that have transpired, in hindsight do you think it was a mistake turning down the $2 million for the step‑aside money?

Duva: Wait a minute. I got to stop you there. There was never $1 for real on the table. We never turned down ‑‑ in fact, we had an agreement with them. They never delivered the money. So there was never any turn‑down by Sam.

Question: Are you saying that you guys were going to accept the offer for ‑‑

peter vs mccline

Duva: There was an agreement in place. They never delivered the money. It was all bullshit. They conned everybody for a couple of months. We agreed to a deal and then they never delivered it. That's what was so frustrating about the whole thing. We're never going to let that happen again for Sam.

Question: Jameel, how do you feel about your experience with this being your fourth shot at a title?

McCline: First of all, before I answer that question I'd like to say I also view this as a championship fight. I don't know about this "interim" stuff and this interim this and that. This man is the heavyweight champion of the world. And that is how I'm looking at it. When I come out with the belt I will be the champion of the world not this interim stuff. If you want to put that on there as a technicality, that's fine, but in reality it is what it is. Sam Peter is the heavyweight champion in the world. Having said that, I do believe that my experience is ‑‑ listen, I got a lot of fights. This will be my fourth world title fight. It is what it is. I don't really know what you want me to say about it. It is what it is. Experience allows you to view things differently. You see more things than you've seen before. That's all.

Question: Sam, how comfortable are you knowing that you've won a championship but yet you didn't win it in the ring?

Peter: Well, that's because I'm not going to pull out. I was getting ready for a heavyweight championship as the number one contender if he wouldn't have pulled out ‑‑ I never pulled out from a fight. I've been getting ready to go with him. But he pulled out from the fight, and I'm comfortable with anything.

Question: I believe McCline would be the strongest and tallest fighter that you fought since you lost to Wladimir Klitschko two years ago. What adjustments have you made in training in which you'll be able to put forth perhaps an even better display of boxing?

Peter: I am 300, 400 times stronger than McCline. I've fought a lot of people even in my training. So nothing is difficult. On Saturday you will see.

Question: Style‑wise, how do you see this fight against Peter panning out as opposed to your fights against Wladimir Klitschko, Nikolay Valuev and Chris Byrd?

McCline: Are you serious with a question like that? I'm going to win the fight. What am I going to say it's going to be ‑‑ what am I going to say? It's going to be different? I'm going to lose this time? No, listen, I'm a great fighter. I fight as much as I can, as hard as I can. And I walk into every arena expecting to walk out with the win, just like I will Saturday night. I'm going to walk in that arena expecting to walk out with a win.

Question: Do you think Peter hits as hard as Klitschko?

McCline: I see what you're saying. Listen, I was in there with Shannon Briggs. And I am convinced he's the absolute hardest puncher in the world back when he was still fighting when he got into a fight. And, listen, I was able to walk out of there. I got hit a couple times, and shook me up a couple times. Sam has tremendous power. Everyone knows that. This is the heavyweight division, and I will be aware of that. I will be cautious of that. But in the same token I'll be very aggressive and fight my game plan.

Question: How has this last minute change affected your preparation for the fight?

Peter: Didn't change because I'm a fighter. I've gotta fight. I'm a fighter. I don't care. It doesn't change anything.

Question: Do you expect that you will ever get a chance to fight Maskaev or that this fight with Maskaev will never happen?

Peter: Yeah, I was ready. I was ready. When I heard he didn't want to fight, retired the ring, he retired himself. I want to fight him.

Question: Jameel, you've had a couple of weeks a roller coaster to fight Klitschko and DaVarryl Williamson, who is now still on the card, and to fight Samuel Peter for the WBC title. Tell us how this has affected your preparation. Every week your opponent was changed.

McCline: It hasn't affected it much, only in the fact that I had to bring in some different guys. That was the only difference that it made and we had to change game plan once because we were going to go with the same game plan to beat DaVarryl that we were going to use to beat Klitschko. So we only changed it once to, we just changed game plan once to figure out how we're going to beat Sam Peter. That's it. That's the only difference.

Question: Is your controversial decision loss to Chris Byrd in The Garden affect you mentally?

McCline: It doesn't hinder nor does it help. That's just what it was. That was a fight three years ago, this is a fight three years later. Three years later, three years smarter, three years better.

Question: What do you think can be done to verify if a fighter does have an injury that's why they're pulling out?

Duva: What needs to be done is, number one, there needs to be a uniform rule. The minute an injury occurs they have to notify all parties, the promoters, the sanctioning organizations, everyone involved, and they have to immediately make doctors' reports available so everyone can see them. And also they should be subject to independent doctor's verifications. And that should be a strong rule for every participant in these fights, because the fact is that, you know, look, if a fighter gets significantly injured, you can't expect them to go through with a fight. But there's obviously a lot of shenanigans, delays, manipulations that go on, once the fighters get injured then their handlers start playing games and start to strategically do it. That's wrong. The promotions, the TV networks, the sites, they get seriously damaged by this kind of stuff. And there has to be some very strong rules on how they have to report and how soon they have to report and how they have to submit themselves to doctor's examinations.

Question: Dino, when this first happened Rappaport said something to the effect that he would let you see the doctor's reports?

Duva: To this day I still haven't seen them.

Question: So have you tried to go forward with that and you just haven't gotten ‑‑

Duva: When he first notified Don that he was pulling out, which was I guess two weeks ago, I called Dennis up and said, "Dennis, what's going on?" He started talking to me about the injury. He acknowledged to me that he was feeling pain and injured two and a half weeks earlier. I said, "Why did you wait this long to pull out of the fight?" And he came up with what you would expect he would come up with: "We were hoping that it would go away." Let me tell you something, several herniated discs do not go away. In fact, they take a long time to develop. So something doesn't seem right there. I told Dennis I'd like to see the medical records and he said “Absolutely, we'll send the x‑rays everything over to you.” I can't speak for Don's office but I have not gotten them yet and I have not seen anything yet. You can bet that I'm not going to let up on that. I want to see these reports.

McCline: Our requests to see medical reports have not been answered either.

Duva: With Vitale? Something is not right here.

McCline: My theory is these two guys thought they were going to get together and take this fight to Moscow and finally come up with the money to pay Pete to fight in Moscow.

Duva: That was never going to happen on Sam Peter's end. And if that was their plan, they made a serious misjudgment.

Question: Do you agree with Jameel, that that might have been in the works, do you think?

Duva: Look, maybe somebody had it in their mind, but it just wasn't a realistic thought. They couldn't possibly think if they had half a brain that after everything that's gone on that they were somehow going to skirt the issue and avoid fighting Samuel Peter again. That was not going to happen. I would have taken that to the Supreme Court rather than accept any offers.

McCline: Both athletes hurt their back, both athletes have injuries that can't easily be diagnosed by some other doctor. It was just too coincidental.

Duva: Look, if they had something like that in mind, it wouldn't have been for the WBC heavy weight championship, I can tell you that.

Question: Dino, I don't need to know the dollar amounts but in percentages what were the financial terms for the Peter-Maskaev bout?

Duva: 55/45.

Question: So it would be the same terms, even if Maskaev does eventually step forward?

Duva: That's not necessarily so. If Maskaev is ready, willing and able to fight immediately after this fight if Samuel wins, then it will still be 55/45. Right now, right now the WBC has said they will keep it there. But they also have the flexibility of taking everything into consideration when the time comes and re-looking at the percentage split. Nothing is etched in stone, I can tell you that.

Question: With that in mind, do you think Maskaev will come into the ring knowing he might make even less?

Duva: That's something that Maskaev will have to make a decision on. Is he going to end his boxing career or get in the ring like a warrior and fight for what is the determined purse split? That's a simple decision he'll have to make.

Question: If you win are you obligated to wait for Maskaev until he gets healthy?

Duva: No, we're not obligated to wait until he gets healthy. Maskaev is obligated to immediately sign for the fight, be ready physically, willing and able to fight within 90, 120 days. We're not waiting. If he's available physically and mentally and legally to fight immediately after this fight, then we'll honor that. But we are not waiting and we are not obligated to wait for Maskaev anymore.

Question: Short answer, if you don't step up, you're free to fight whoever you want to after that?

Duva: Absolutely. That's going to be our position.

Question: How do you plan to fight another fighter that is so strong like McCline?

Peter: You'll be at the ring and you'll see.

Question: I have a question for Dino. Did you suspect leading up to Saturday that Maskaev was going to try to pull out of the fight?

Duva: Well, to be quite honest with you, and I'm not prejudiced, but there's something funny that goes on with Soviet fighters and their bodies and injuries in pulling out of fights. They just have a history of pulling out fights. No two ways about it. And from day one, going all the way back to January, after Sam beat Tony the second time, all this stuff about Maskaev, Klitschko, us fighting the winner, it always seriously concerned me because these guys, their bodies, are prone to injuries. They have a history of it. They have a history of pulling out of fights. And that is always a concern any time with these guys. I'm not going to speculate on what the problem is with them physically. But I think Bob Arum said it pretty good the other day. The bottom line is that I always am worried about the Soviet fighters. They have a history of their bodies breaking down and pulling out of fights. Absolutely.

Question: Dino, do you think that we're going to see big improvements from Peter come Saturday night?

Duva: I think you're going to see improvements from Samuel every fight for a long time. In my opinion, and I think Ivailo will concur with this. I don't even think Samuel was close to his potential yet. He gets better every fight. He learns more every fight. The thing that a lot of people don't realize is Samuel, while he's known as a puncher, has tremendous athletic and boxing skills, too. I think you're going to see more things and new things out of him every fight he goes into. And I don't think he's even close to his potential yet.

Gotzev: Let me put it in numbers. I've been with Sam every training camp and fight from day one. The way Sam is developing right now, I can clearly say that he's probably working at 60% of his overall potential. So the best is yet to come, without a doubt. So look forward to October 6 and the one after that. Right now we're looking at 60% of Sam Peter to be exact.

Article posted on 03.10.2007

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