Fight Breakdown: Vitali Klitschko vs. Samuel Peter
By Zhenyu Li, photo by Y.Nesterenko -- In perhaps the best clash the heavyweight division could produce, for the time being, and a fight that could possibly shape the division's future landscape, the emeritus WBC champion Vitali Klitschko is attempting to make a spectacular return on Saturday following a 46-month hiatus from the ring when he squares off against the current WBC titleholder Samuel Peter at the O2 World Arena in Berlin, Germany.
Article posted on 10.10.2008
As an independent Chinese boxing scribe on the roster of ESB, I'll try to break down the fight in an unbiased fashion, in terms of strengths and weaknesses of both fighters and the predicted outcome.
Advantages: Physique: One of the most imposing presences in the current heavyweight scene, Vitali Klitschko has 7 inches' edge in height and 3 inches' advantage in reach over the Nigerian mauler, which stands out as a major factor in any fistic battle..
Overall skill set: "Dr. Ironfist" is more of a technically sound boxer. He has an above-the-average defense combined with a tremendous straight right over his thudding jab, which he's more than willing to unleash, compared with his meticulous younger brother.
Home court advantage: Fighting in Berlin, his second home town, Vitali will take up the glove in an arena packed with his supportive roaring fans 10 times more than the Nigerian reining titlist.
Disadvantages: Long hiatus: Coming off from a 46-month layoff, and then attempting to pick up where he left off, whatever the former champion bragging about his "well-preserved condition", no one truly knows what the former champion will look like in a real battle until he touches gloves with Peter. Remember, Muhammad Ali was not the same fighter when he came back 25 months after outpointing Leon Spinks to reclaim the WBC title Vitali is now aiming at.
Advantages: Power: Although the once mighty "Nigerian Nightmare" who came out of nowhere, knocking out 21 of his first 24 opponents, has managed to halt only two fighters in his last seven bouts, there is still fire within his two gloves.
Heart/Chin: The toughness Peter showed in the ring is just exceptional. Despite the fact that he was floored three times by the "Big Time" McCline, the sturdy brawler has never been stopped in his whole career and tasted canvas solely in this fight. In his last slugfest against Oleg Maskaev, Peter held up well after taking a fair bit of forceful punches from the former champ before storming back with a flurry of powerful shots to claim the victory in the sixth.
Age: At a fresh age of 28, Peter is now in his prime while the old lion, 37, has ridden on a twilight train.
Disadvantages: Lack of technique: Peter is a simple-minded one dimensional fighter who always comes straightforward and throws nothing but bombs, leaving him vulnerable to counter attacks.
Stamina: In recent years, endurance remains an issue in some of Peter's fights, especially in his first confrontation against James Toney, in which he looked bulky and lethargic. This could be fatal in the upcoming tussle in that for him to pierce through Vitali's long arms and actually land something meaningful, which would be a draining process both physically and mentally, Peter truly needs to play a high-energy game.
If this fight takes place three years ago right after Vitali knocked out Danny Williams, who happened to be almost the same size and style as Peter, I think everyone would favor the all-around Ukrainian. Yet now, with Vitali's 46-month hiatus, neither fighter would walk away with the triumph in a dominant fashion.
Odds can be found in the challenger's favor should he use his height, reach and style to his full advantage. But if he fails to pull it off and is betrayed by his brittle body, Peter will have a genuine puncher's chance.
Zhenyu Li is the columnist for People’s Daily and a member of the International Research Organization (IBRO). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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