Peter/Toney: The "Nightmare" Still Has a Way To Go To Get Off Elm Street!

08.01.07 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza: In order for this criticism to not be misconstrued as Peter bashing by a non fan, let me begin with the positive: Samuel Peter is correct in saying this was his best fight and that he improved as a boxer because this was obviously true. Peter's improvements began in training and showed at the weigh in before the fight, where Peter was eight pounds lighter and looking much thinner than in recent years. It continued in the ring, as Peter showed a continuous work rate and even some decent mobility..

The real proof of this improvement came at two key moments in the fight, where in after James Toney moved back to the ropes and tried to bait Peter to come at him, Sam didn’t budge. It was a very real and very significant sign of character that Peter, portrayed as a brawler without ring smarts or technique, showed in that one action.

The second instance came when Toney landed on Peter, who then proceeded to mock Toney in “Lights Out,” pretending to be hurt, only to then unload a dangerous looking combination to Toney's head. Of course, from a fan standpoint, this was exciting but it also showed that Peter can be psychologically intimidating in the ring and can pick things up in this manner from fighters like Toney. All in all, there was definite positive improvement in Samuel Peter’s fight game and character.

However, the complementing should not overlook the negative aspects of this fight. For one, James Toney was in horrible shape overall, and I don’t care what Billy Blanks, Freddie Roach or anybody else has to say on the matter. It has nothing to do with weight, it has to do with his inability to sustain a decent work rate throughout a twelve round fight anymore. While talented, as I have said before, talent does not always equate to success and that is why he will make fights close but won’t be able to win them convincingly. Not unless he trains the way someone like Hopkins or Mayweather does.

Pound for Pound, James Toney may have more talent then either of those fighters, but at the same time, pound for pound he appeared to be in no better shape than Butterbean, which is why Sam Peter need not celebrate for too long. For long periods of the fight, Peter looked lethargic and tired as well and was also missing with a lot of punches, even though Toney was dead tired and standing directly in front of him. I truly believe, and call it bias if you will, that if Wladimir Klitschko was standing against James Toney after round five or six, you would have seen Toney dropped or stopped on his feet.

James Toney is a shot fighter, but to some degree like Ali because he is so talented there is still enough there to make him last. By comparison, guys like Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins, who while not as naturally talented (speed and reflexes wise) can still fight against mediocare fighters like Antonio Tarver and Fres Oquendo. Sam Peter, while obviously not on that level, as he is still young and still improving, for which he deserves praise, was not on the level of the types of fighters Toney dominated at the lower weights.

This version of Toney was stumbling around with bad footwork, crossing his feet, clinching, and bleeding all over the place and so a win over a fighter in that condition, even one as talented as Toney, should be taken with a grain of salt. What I mean by this is while Peter should be happy with his result and with his improvements he should stop celebrating and start thinking on how to cross into the next level of fitness. The level where he sheds another few pounds but gains another few degrees of fluidity and speed. At points in the fight, Sam Peter actually showed some Mayweather-like defense, which he noted after the fight, BUT the key is these were only moments not fluid typical examples of his arsenal.

Already folks are talking about Maskaev/Peter as a possibility, and even though as I have mentioned I would rather see Maskaev/Klitschko, (which would most likely give us Klitschko vs. the new and improved Peter 2, a more satisfying fight I believe) if Peter gets to fight Maskaev, he should not take it for granted. While Maskaev has been knocked out before, and more than once, and is not as naturally talented as James Toney he compensates for these drawbacks by improving on other things. Being knocked out gives a willing fighter experience a guy who never tasted defeat cannot draw on. Oleg Maskaev is also a much better trained fighter than James Toney. If Samuel Peter does not improve his game, he will have less opportunity to be inactive during the fight, as he was against Toney, because Maskaev will not back off to the ropes and give Peter the choice to follow him or not, or perhaps rest or not, rather he will attack and force Peter to fight something we don’t know if he can do at a real sustained pace.

For now, however, congratulations to Samuel and let’s hope he seizes the opportunity by the throat and stays in the gym and improves even more for the sake of fans and boxing.

Article posted on 08.01.2007

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