Why Oleg Maskaev Will Beat Samuel Peter

Oleg MaskaevBy Pavel Yakovlev: In two days Oleg Maskaev and Samuel Peter will fight in Cancun, Mexico to determine who is the WBC heavyweight champion of the world. Peter is a huge favorite to win the bout, with various Las Vegas betting houses putting money on the Nigerian by odds of 2/11, 3/10, 2/9, 1/6, and 1/5.

The reasons why the experts and fans favor Peter are easy to fathom. Maskaev is regarded as an aging fighter with slowing reflexes and a suspect chin. In Peter, Maskaev is facing a younger, faster, stronger, heavier, and harder punching foe. Further, Peterís record is in some ways superior to Maskaevís because Ė so far at least Ė the Nigerian has not suffered any devastating knockout losses. Oleg by contrast has suffered several high profile kayo defeats over his long career.

The consensus is that Peter can do far more damage to Maskaev than vice verse, and that at any point in the bout, the Nigerian can end the fight with a single devastating blow to Olegís chin. Most experts believe that the only question is when, not if, Peter will stop Maskaev.

It is a fact that there is high potential for Peter to end this bout with a dramatic knockout. Peter can get the job done suddenly and explosively. There is no need here for a discussion of how and why Peter can win: that has been explained many times already in media reports.

However, Peter also exhibits certain weaknesses that could leave him vulnerable to a fighter of Maskaevís strengths. It is a fact, believe it or not, that Maskaev could beat Peter.

How can Maskaev beat Peter? The answer to this question rests upon two factors. The first is Maskaevís capacity to box effectively and avoid being hit. The second concerns Maskaevís capacity to score often with his powerful right hand.

When he fights at his best, Maskaev can box effectively from the stand-up position. He holds his guard high, and he moves his upper body very well in defensive maneuvers, rolling his shoulders from side to side and ducking quickly to the left and right in order to slip punches. Olegís mastery of these tactics enabled him to keep Hasim Rahman at bay for most of their bout in 2006. If Maskaev is in top physical condition, it is not impossible for him to do the same with Peter. Should this kind of tactical bout unfold, Peter may find himself hitting nothing but air.

Further, Maskaev has a powerful right hand. Oleg can throw the heavy right as a straight cross or as an overhand punch, and he uses his right effectively as a lead punch, as a rapid follow-up to his left jab, and as sharp, accurate counter. Maskaev can end any fight with one well placed right hand.

If Oleg can score with his heavy right early in the bout, he can take control of this fight. Recently Jameel McCline had Peter reeling around the ring and he floored him three times. It is likely that Oleg could do at least as well if he is able to hit Peter. Should Peter absorb the full flush of Maskaevís right hand, he could be seriously hurt, or at the very least, he will be compelled to back away and box cautiously.

Seeing Peter floored three times and repeatedly wobbled by Jameel McCline has established that the Nigerian does not necessarily have the anvil-like durability that most observers (including this writer) presumed he possessed. Peter is no longer regarded as the second coming of George Chuvalo with respect to being able to take a punch. He can be hurt, assuming he is hit squarely by a serious puncher.

Peter is open to right hands, too. In watching films of Peterís fights, this writer has noticed numerous occasions when he drops his left after jabbing. During those instances Samuel often leans forward and his chin is exposed. If Oleg times his overhand right effectively, he could catch Peter full flush. At that moment anything could happen.

For the reasons described above, this writer picks Maskaev to beat Peter by decision.

It is likely that Maskaev will box effectively on Saturday, ducking Peterís fast, wild blows and tying the Nigerian up often. Oleg will pick his punches carefully, scoring early with his powerful overhand right, stunning Peter and forcing him to fight cautiously. As the rounds pass, the bout will likely devolve into a wrestling match of sorts, with lots of clinching and pushing. Between the two, Maskaev will likely land the cleaner punches, and he will thus pull ahead on the scorecards.

The suspense will remain extremely high in this bout for the entire twelve rounds because Peter could stop Maskaev at any moment with any single punch he lands. But if Maskaev fights intelligently, he can prevent Peter from landing that one single telling blow, and in doing so, he can set himself up to win the fight.

Article posted on 07.03.2008

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