Wladimir Klitschko vs Samuel Peter-What chance does Peter have?

By Paul McCreath: On September 11 in Frankfurt Germany world heavyweight champion Wlad Klitschko puts his 3 title belts on the line against his mandatory challenger and former belt holder Sam Peter. Sam who is next in line replaces Alex Povetkin who had been the mandatory but declined to accept the fight. It is not the fight everyone except David Haye wants but it is still an attractive match, a rematch of a very exciting bout from 5 years ago.

No doubt the followers of both fighters are equally sure that their man will win and nothing I have to say will change their minds. Hopefully those of you who are neutral or at least have open minds will be given something to think about with my estimation of what might happen this time..

I think that the easiest way to predict the winner is to look at what happened in the first fight and then consider where the boxers have gone with their careers since then and how any changes may effect their chances in the rematch. In the first fight Sam Peter put Wlad down three times. Many feel that only one of these official knockdowns was legitimate and legal. We won’t get into that argument again now but it is a fact that on the scorecards Wlad won 9 of the 12 rounds and also nearly dropped Peter in the last round. It is fairly safe to say that Klitschko proved he could outbox Peter and both proved they can hurt the other.

Since that first fight we have seen many changes in Wlad Klitschko. Before then there were a lot of question marks about Wlad’s chin, his stamina and his confidence. Stoppage losses to Lamon Brewster and Corrie Sanders had left him mentally shaken. Getting dropped by Davarryl Williamson did not help either. He had been working with Manny Steward for a few months but many thought Sam would blow him away. Sam came close but didn’t quite manage it. Wlad survived and we saw the beginnings of a new fighter. He still has the same chin, not great but not as bad as we once thought and he seldom gets hit any more. In 9 title fights since 2005 he has rarely lost a round, never been decked and has stopped every opponent except Sultan Ibragimov who just didn’t want to fight. Thanks to Manny Steward Wlad is a far different fighter today. He has learned how to work more effectively behind his jab, pace himself better and hold when necessary to survive any rough spots. He is now confident he can handle any situation. The Wlad Klitschko of 5 years ago would never have survived against the Wlad of today.

Now what about Sam Peter? Sam went on from the Klitschko fight to defeat James Toney twice, the first time on a disputed decision but the second time a clear win. He also outpointed Jameel McCline who had Sam doing the chicken dance before he ran out of gas. Keep in mind McCline was not known as a dangerous puncher. Sam also KO’d Oleg Maskaev to win his alphabet belt. For most of these bouts and the next one against Vitali Klitschko where he lost his belt Sam weighed around 250 pounds. Against Vitali he was clearly outclassed and took a bad beating. In his next fight he ballooned up to 265 pounds and lost a close decision to Eddie Chambers who was also fat but much smaller. It appeared at this point that Sam might be done but in recent months he has rededicated himself to better conditioning and has added 4 wins against easy opposition while always coming in under 240 1/2. In his last bout he weighed 237 1/2 against Nagy Aguilera who was stopped in 2 rounds. This was the lowest Sam had weighed since 2001.

Beating level B and C opponents hardly proves that Sam is back to his best again but his weight certainly is a positive. He should not be taken lightly. He has only ever lost to the two Klitschko brothers and Eddie Chambers who was also highly ranked. Sam is no bum. He is a former champion, big, strong, hard hitting and with a good chin. He should be considered one of the best of an admittedly modest level of top heavyweights today but can he beat Wlad?

When two heavyweights with KO power meet you can never say either one can’t win. There is always the puncher’s chance but that is really the best chance Sam has. Wlad won the first fight and he is much better now. Sam may or may not be at his peak. If Wlad could beat Sam 5 years ago you have to think the new improved version should be able to do it again. There is no way that Sam can outbox Wlad but at least he is likely to be fit and give it a good try. Age will likely not be a factor. Sam is listed at 29 and Wlad at a peak 34. I think this fight will be much like the bout with Vitali only Sam will be more motivated. This probably will be his last chance. Wlad is better technically than Vitali and will probably control the fight with his jab much like his brother did until he lowers the boom somewhere around the eighth round. It should be good while it lasts.