Passing of the Torch: From Tyson to Peter? Exclusive Interview with Samuel Peter

15.06.05 - By Geoffrey Ciani: Two nights after former undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, “Iron” Mike Tyson called it ‘quits’ from the world of boxing, I had the privilege of chatting with the up-and-coming young heavyweight contender from Nigeria, Samuel Peter. While speaking with the polite young gentlemen, I somehow felt as if I were metaphorically witnessing a transitional step in the realm of boxing history. It was as if my mind’s eye was figuratively seeing a passing of the torch, being handed from Tyson to Peter.

In fact, many would say that not since Mike Tyson has a young heavyweight generated as much excitement in the ring as has the young Nigerian. With an impressive professional record that stands at an unblemished 23-0 with 20 wins coming by way of knockout, Peter has exhibited an awesome display of raw power not much unlike that of a young Tyson. But enough about Tyson whose time in the sport has just expired; Peter’s time is just now beginning, and he appears to have a very bright future.

Peter is currently in training for a July 2 bout (televised live on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING) against Taurus Sykes, whose record stands at 23 wins, with a loss, and a draw through 25 contests.

Ready to adhere to the task at hand, Peter seemed determined and focused when I questioned how his training was going for his upcoming bout. “Everything is perfect,” declared a confident Peter. “You have to improve with every fight, you know? I think you need to be exciting for the people. I think in every fight you have to make a dent; you have to make every fight exciting for the fans.” Peter’s manager, Ivailo Gotzev, shared similar feelings with an emphasis on the importance of excitement. “It’s going to be exciting and there’s going to be a big knockout,” said Gotzev. “Samuel is going to look like the next big thing.”

When asked whether or not he had any plans after his upcoming bout, Peter enthusiastically responded, “Yes, I have big plans. My big plan is to get the titles – all of the titles.” Peter made it abundantly clear that he’d be willing and able to fight any of the three reigning champions, whether it is Vitali Klitschko, Chris Byrd, or John Ruiz. When asked specifically what he thought about the prospect of fighting for the title against WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, Peter enthusiastically responded, “That would be perfect. It would be a great fight, and I would knock him out.” When pressed on whether or not he had a specific round prediction, he sounded as cool as an assassin and calmly replied, “Yes, round 4.” And he sounded like he meant it.

Peter clearly believes his time has arrived. Currently ranked in the top ten in three of the four major sanctioning bodies, one would think his opportunity is right around the corner. But as manager Ivailo Gotzev duly noted, securing a title shot might not be the easiest thing in a sport that is oftentimes dominated by inside connections rather than merit. “To get a title shot, it would basically have to be worked out politically. We’d have to earn our position, because King don’t want to give up any of his champions, and none of the champions want to fight Samuel.” But Gotzev believes the other champions will inevitably be forced to reckon with his young menacing fighter, one way or the other. “So now we’re going to have to earn it by gaining a mandatory position; we’ll have to fight to get there. So when Samuel does get a title shot, he’ll have earned it every step of the way.”

As I continued chatting with Peter and his manager, the subject turned to fighters who had a profound influence on the young pugilist. “My number one is Muhammad Ali, you know. Also Mike Tyson, and James ‘Buster’ Douglas”. Peter was impressed by the way the 42 to 1 underdog handled himself against the seemingly invincible Mike Tyson over 15 years ago. In the midst of these talks, I once again found myself contemplating the symbolic passing of the torch, being relayed from Tyson to Peter during a time where the heavyweight division is desperately longing for a dominant champion to emerge from the shadows and take control. Back to the conversation, Peter expressed his views on the recent demise of Tyson: “Well, you can’t go through life being a champion forever. But you know, he was there, the people loved him, and he will be remembered as a great champion.”

Will Peter also be regarded as a great champion, sometime down the road? In Gotzev’s mind, it’s only a matter of time. “I promise the world that this kid’s not just going to put heavyweight boxing back where it belongs, but this kid will make boxing the most recognized sport in the world.” These were bold words coming from Peter’s manager, yet somehow, it all seemed entirely believable. Gotzev continued, “Forget about the old and look at the new. Everybody’s feeling sorry for Mike Tyson, and there’s a good reason, because it’s the end of an era.”

The end of an era! Those words echoed through my mind as I once again found myself contemplating the possibility that this young fighter might very well be the one who helps fill a gigantic void in the current landscape of the heavyweight division. Gotzev concluded: “Now it’s time to turn the page and look towards the future.” It was as if he was verifying the very thought that had crossed my mind since the discussion had first started; it was as if t he metaphorical torch had just been passed right before my very eyes into the waiting hands of the young Samuel Peter.

I concluded my chat by asking Peter what he wanted boxing fans to think when they heard the name ‘Samuel Peter’. “Excitement,” exclaimed Peter. “I want it to be exciting for the fans, and I want to bring them great matches. I want them to see somebody fall like a tree.”

Will Samuel Peter be the next big thing in heavyweight boxing? Judge for yourself, and be sure to tune in to Showtime on July 2 to watch the exciting young contender, Samuel Peter take on Taurus Sykes.

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Article posted on 15.06.2005

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