Peter vs. Maskaev: Is Samuel Damaged Goods?

By Adrian Jacob: Heavyweight Samuel Peter (29-1, 22 KOs) hopes not only to defeat WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev (34-5, 26 KOs) on Saturday night, but to do it in style, winning by a devastating knockout like he's shown early in career with wins over Jeremy Williams and Taurus Sykes. The problem is, Peter has yet to show the ability to stop top tier opposition, as he's failed against quality fighters, such as Wladimir Klitschko, who beat him in 2005, and James Toney, who Peter was forced to battle hard to get wins..

If there was ever an opponent for Peter regain his earlier crushing knockout form, it's the 39 year-old Maskaev, a fighter with a clear cut history of horrible knockout losses to big punchers.

However, Maskaev also has good power of his own and excellent boxing skills to go along with it, meaning that if Peter makes a mistake in the fight, he may well find himself on a losing end of a knockout himself. I wouldn't have said that before his recent bout with Jameel McCline in October 2007, but Peter was knocked about with ease by the relatively weak-punching McCline in the early rounds. All total, Peter visited the canvas three times, and if it weren't for McCline tiring out in the second of half of the fight, we'd be talking about McCline vs. Maskaev rather Peter.

These knock downs of Peter are somewhat worrisome, for if he's getting knocked down by a fighter like McCline, what will happen when Peter starts getting tagged by Maskaev, who hits quite a bit harder than McCline. Additionally, Maskaev generally holds his power into the late rounds of his fights, as evidenced by his 12th round TKO of Hasim Rahman in 2006. Whether he still has the same power and stamina as then remains to be seen, but I’d be surprised if he lost since that time, for Maskaev stays in shape year round unlike some other boxers who let themselves go between fights.

For a lot of people, they wonder if Peter can still take a good shot, speculating that he may have had his ability to take a punch lessened due to the ferocious beating he took from Wladimir Klitschko in September 2005.

While Peter did drop Klitschko on three occasions in the bout, it was Peter who was badly stunned in the final round by a sledgehammer of a left hook from Klitschko, the kind of shot that would have normally planted a fighter with a less sturdy chin than Peter. However, left hook may have done more lasting damage, enough possibly for Peter to be weakened from it and more susceptible to future concussions. Of course, this is all speculation since we have no way of looking at the internal makings of Peter’s head. But, it does strike me as somewhat peculiar to watch Peter getting dropped repeatedly by a weak puncher like McCline and on the verge of a knockout loss.

However, it wasn’t just the left hook from Klitschko, it might very well have been the entire 12-rounds of the fight, in which Klitschko unloaded constantly with right hands. There was none of the timid safety-first stuff from Klitschko like he recently showed against Sultan Ibragimov. This was Wladimir at almost full force like early in his career, when he would blitz his opponents with lethal straight rights and mix in left hooks off the jab.

Though Peter didn’t get hit with quite as many as Klitschko’s normal opponents did, it may have amounted to the same because Peter stayed in the fight for all 12 rounds. That’s an awful lot of punishment to take and afterwards Peter’s face showed it starkly with his face badly lumped up and bleeding.

Article posted on 07.03.2008

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