Wladimir Klitschko vs. Samuel Peter: Survival of The Fittest

03.09.05 - By Kevin Dinkins: After two mostly down years, Wladimir Klitschko (44-3, 40 KOís) will attempt to line himself up for a shot at either the IBF or the WBO heavyweight title, when he meets up with unbeaten knockout artist Samuel Peter on September 24, in a twelve round IBF elimination bout at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Whoever comes out on top, can pick between the winner of Chris Byrd vs. Davarryl Williamson or Lamon Brewster vs. Luan Krasniqi (WBO).. Whatís surprising to me about Wladimir Klitschko, is that he is this close to getting another shot at the IBF title holder (Chris Byrd) , even though heís done very little since losing to Corrie Sanders, other than losing again, this time to Lamon Brewster, and 4 wins against limited competition.

For that matter, look at Samuel Peter. At this time, heís fought exclusively C-level fighters during his young career, but all he has to do now is defeat Wladimir, and then he, too, can be fighting for a heavyweight title. It kind of makes me long for the old days.

Wladimirís star power has taken a major hit since his shocking 2nd round knockout loss to Corrie Sanders on March 8, 2003. At the time of their fight, Wladimir was thought to be the most talented heavyweight fighter in the division. However, the knockout loss was made to look even worse by the poor skills Wladimir exhibited in a losing effort. After he originally got knocked down by a huge left hand by Sanders, Wladimir immediately sprang up, but had no idea what to do, other than cringing in a fetal-like ball, as Sanders continued to unload on him with pulverizing blows. For some odd reason, Wladimir showed no understanding about the concept of clinching Sanders, while he waited for his head to clear. As hurt as Wladimir was that night, it probably wouldn't have mattered, but it's still something he should have used. Even before the knockdown, Wladimir failed to use his excellent jab to keep Sanders at a distance. As big as Wladimir is, he could have dominated Sanders, much like his older brother, Vitali, did using his jab. Instead, however, Wladimir tried to sneak in a right hand and he paid for it when Sanders came over the top with his straight left hand that knocked Wladimir silly.

Going into the fight, Wladimir was expected to walk through Sanders, who was brought in to be nothing more than an easy win for Wladimir. Perhaps if Wladimir had done any good research about Sanders, he would have chosen a much easier opponent, as Sanders size, hand speed and his southpaw stance, made him a very dangerous opponent for anyone in the heavyweight division, much less against someone with a chin as fragile as Wladimir's.

In his last fight against Eliseo Castillo, Wladimir didnít look all that good in there, as if he still hasnít recovered mentally from his past losses or something. For the most part, he appeared to be extremely fearful of being countered by Castillo, who probably had no business being in the same ring with someone as skilled as Wladimir in the first place. Still, despite the fact that Wladimir was essentially jabbing Castilloís head off, Wladimir would still retreat full scale at any hints of a punch from Castillo, which made for a sorry sight. For me, it looked terrible to see Wladimir doing that, considering how I remember how ferocious he was a couple of years ago, before his two knockout losses. Back then, Wladimir's offensive skills were second to none. It didn't matter if Wladimir had a chin or not back then, because no one could survive long enough to even touch him. Itís strange how things can change so quickly for a fighter.

Samuel Peter has won all 24 of his fights, 21 by knockout, and has little trouble mowing down the mostly 3rd tier fighters theyíve put him in with up to this point. On the one hand, heís looked good, if not unbeatable, in dispatching his opponents. However, I think that people overestimate Peter's punching power right now, including his ability to box because of the limited competition heís faced. I mean, itís not hard to destroy opponents when they lack the ability to fight back and defend themselves, like 1st tier fighters can.

Peterís managementís choice in selecting Wladimir as an opponent, someone who seemingly is far more advanced skill-wise than Peter, appears like an extremely risk taking move, in my opinion, if not foolhardy. I mean, I can see what theyíre trying to attempt in taking such a big risk. To them, Wladimir seems to be the perfect guy for Peter to step up against, hopefully beat, and thereby adding a good looking victory to his record. However, itís a move that could very well hurt him in the end, especially if he gets totally outboxed, outclassed and possibly hurt in there. Thereís a reason why fighters are brought up slowly, and that is, they need to time to build up their skill levels, as well as confidence before theyíre thrown in with ultra-talented fighters, such as Wladimir Klitschko. In my opinion, based on the handful of fights Iíve seen of Peter, I think he needs a lot more training and development before taking on someone like Wladimir. Wladimir may have a fragile chin, and lousy stamina, but his handspeed alone, would be enough to give Peter fits. Add to that, Wladimir's huge size and reach advantage, and you have for what could very well be a long night of pain for Peter.

In watching Peterís fight with Charles Shufford, I noticed that Peter had some real problems due to his inability to land his big, looping punches, most of them often missed their mark badly. I actually was more impressed with Shufford than I was with Peter, in watching the fight. During much of the action, Shufford was able to steer Peter around the ring, as if he were slow moving bull, peppering him with a steady, stiff jab. Although Shufford tired in the later rounds and lost a close decision, I was alarmed at how bad Peter looked. Going into the fight, I had heard much about him being the next Tyson. However, what I saw out there against Charles Shufford, was someone that resembled more of a limited amateur than a skilled professional. I mean, his wild swings looked like something out of a tough man contest than a professional boxer. Yes, I noticed his power immediately, as did Shufford, from the look of terror in his eyes, but it wasnít extraordinary when compared to most of the other heavyweights in the division. His punches seem powerful, yet they were so slow, that any real boxer with defensive skills can easily avoid them if they keep their eyes open for his telegraphed swings.

For all the comparisonís that people have made between Samuel Peter and his fellow countryman, Ike Ibeabuchi, they are nowhere near alike in ability. Whereas Ibeabuchi was a nonstop punching machine with decent skills and hand speed, Peter is slow, predictable and ponderous, although the power is probably even. I donít even compare Peter favorably to Tua, who isnít much shorter than Peter, but who can throw punches in a hurry when heís motivated. Tuaís hand speed, punch assortment, and overall skills are vastly superior to what Iíve seen from Peter.

However, it doesnít really matter how slow and unskilled Peter is, since he can punch like a mule, and as weíve seen with Wladimir, he can be stopped by big punchers. His fragile chin needs to be protected all it can, so Iím hoping that Emanuel Steward is teaching Wladimir how to pace himself, and to use his jab more often. Normally, Wladimir starts out real fast in the beginning of his fights and looks almost unbeatable early on, however, he slows down by mid fight, and starts openly gasping for air, much like a fish out of water. When he reaches that point in the fight, he is extremely vulnerable to any fighter that can put enough pressure on him to make him fold.

Right now, Peter is still very much an unknown factor - mostly because hasnít fought anyone yet and has looked mostly good against the 3rd tier opposition that heís faced. Up to this point, the questions about him have yet to be answered. However, by the end of the fight, we should have a good indication where he is and will be able to guess how far heíll go. From a logical standpoint, this should be an easy fight for Wladimir to win.

Wladimir's punching power is almost the same as Peterís, and he has vastly more dangerous punch tools with which to choose from (a short, powerful left hook, which he often disguises as a jab, straight right, powerful right hook and a pulverizing left jab). His height and reach advantage alone, will be a problem for Peter, who will have to walk through everything Wladimir throws before he can get a shot of on his own, and believe me, Wladimir, if anything, can throw punches in a hurry and with mean intentions. However, if Peter is able to get inside on Wladimir to land, then it can be an early night for him.

Nevertheless, if Wladimir can keep thinking smart after he gets tagged, and remain calm enough to get away to a safe distance, then he will be able to control the fight. Thereís no question that Peter will put hands on Wladimir at some point in the fight, but the big question is, will Wladimir crumble like he has in the past, or will be take the punch and return fire.

Article posted on 03.09.2005

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