Boxing

McCline Raises Questions About Peter

peter vs mccline08.10.07 - By Matthew Hurley, Photos by David M Warr / DKP: Although the heavyweight division remains basically wide open, the consensus by many is that Wladimir Klitschko is the number one man but the not true heavyweight champion of the division. Not until he fights a rematch against Samuel Peter, who decked Klitschko three times in their bout in 2005 before losing a unanimous decision.

Peter went on to fight James Toney twice in WBC elimination bouts. He won the first by split decision. In the second bout, which Peter won by unanimous decision, he seemed to be a fighter with marked improving skills. But the aging Toney couldn’t reveal the holes still left in the “Nigerian Nightmare’s” game. Jameel McCline could and did. Saturday night at Madison Square Garden Peter 29-1 (22) entered the ring determined to make short work of his opponent and continue his march towards heavyweight supremacy.

Looking in shape and prepared, despite the fact that his original opponent, the stout, plodding Oleg Maskaev, had been replaced by an enormous 6 foot 6, 260 pound fighter with fast hands, if a shaky resolve and history of folding in the big one, Peter took control early until his shaky defense and wildness got him into major trouble.

McCline 38-8-3 (23) a hulking specimen who started boxing late in life, learning his craft as he’s gone along, seemed his old skittish self in the early going until the end of the second round when he uncorked an uppercut and caught an unsuspecting Peter on the chin. Peter went down but was up quickly. Unfortunately for Peter the punch was not an aberration. It was a harbinger of what was to come. In the third round a big right hand to the head sent Peter down again and he was badly hurt. He beat the count only to be battered across the ring again finally falling for a third time with forty seconds remaining in the round. Somehow Peter survived and McCline’s window of opportunity began to close rapidly.

McCline, never known for his stamina, perhaps because of his size, began to slow down. Peter, meanwhile, cleared his head and purposely slowed the pace down. But “Big Time” perhaps wondering if this would be his last chance at a title belt, kept trying and caught Peter again, wobbling him at the end of the sixth round. After that Peter won the majority of the rounds but McCline would a keep a few of them close with his jab.

The final scores read 115-110, 113-112, and 115-111. The crowd, obviously thrilled with the New Yorker McCline’s career best performance, booed the decision. Any time a fighter hits the deck three times it’s hard not to focus on that. It was a close fight and could have gone either way.

McCline commented that he could understand losing by a point but that the other two cards were out of line. He also admitted that he missed his big opportunity in the third. “I let him off the hook,” he said, wishing he had the round back. “I let him off the hook and that’s why he won.”

Peter later initially said that he had broken both hands but it was obvious that he was at a bit of a loss as to what had happened. The truth of the matter is, while still a hellacious punch, should he face an opponent who can take his punch his lapses and winging offense leave him open to a sharp shooter with a good jab. McCline, a big man but never thought of as a tremendous puncher, also proved that Peter can be hit and hurt and hurt bad. A rematch with Klitschko becomes even more intriguing because Wladimir possesses all the technical skills to pick Peter apart. He also has a shaky chin. It could be a matter of who gets to whom first.

In the end Jameel McCline proved his worth as, perhaps, more than a gatekeeper in the fight. Off this performance, he’s still a tough fight for anyone. In Peter’s case, despite the win, more questions will be asked of him but one thing should be remembered – he may have gone down three times but he got up three times as well and won the fight. At the very least he proved his toughness. His next fight should answer more questions about his future or just bring about even more.

Article posted on 08.10.2007



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