Boxing


Are Klitschko and Peter contesting the lineal championship?

Bill Patrice Jones - The undisputed heavyweight championship of the world is one of the highest honours in the history of sport. Whenever the question of one championís validity over the others has been in question, so too has the state of boxing at large. For too long following Lennox Lewisís retirement fans harked on about the lack of an undisputed ruler. The lineage had followed Lewis into the path of Vitali Klitschko. Sadly the elder of the two Klitschko brothers was never able to reign as he should have.. Surely one of the most physically commanding heavyweight champions of all time, Vitali Klitschko had the potential to be truly dominant. So desperately unlucky in his: defeat to Byrd, inability to rematch Lewis and persistent injuries it looked as though Vitali would be robbed of his prestige and self determination. Following the championís premature retirement, the heavyweight division was subject to one of the most prolonged and intense waves of criticism in its history.

It was during this time that I first saw Samuel Peter fight, when he and Wladimir Klitschko contested an IBF eliminator in Atlantic city 2005. It was a thrilling contest between a fearsome and determined power puncher and the once vanquished last heir apparent. The 2005 contest between Klitschko and Peter was a tremendous fight in a so called stagnant division. Tonight, five years later Wladimir Klitschko will defend the undisputed and lineal heavyweight championship of the world against his old adversary. Between 2005 and now Wladimir Klitschko has become undisputed. There should no longer be any question, he is the lineal heavyweight champion of the world.

The heavyweight division and boxing in general owes a debt of gratitude to Wladimir. It has been his persistent and unflinching desire to be the very best which brought back prestige and honour to the heavyweight championship. This issue is important, because the publicís perception of who the heavyweight champion is, will ultimately determine how he is viewed in history. In recent times we have seen three issues challenge Wladimirís claim to being undisputed. Firstly there was the return of Vitali Klitschko. Ironically this in large part deflected attention away from Wladimir. Had Vitali not elected to challenge Samuel Peter for his WBC crown, then Wladimir and Peter would have rematches for the unified and undisputed crown. Although they were fulfilling their lifelong ambition, the sharing of the belts between the brothers muddied the waters for the casual fan.

Vitali Klitschko was once undisputed, but this era belongs to Wladimir. Though bothers Leon and Michael Spinks, are often seen as the only two brothers to both win the heavyweight championship. The same can now be said of Vitali and Wladimir.

Secondly there is the self promotion and hype machine surrounding WBA ruler David Haye. The promotion of the Briton in his native country still shows the room for interpretation over who actually is the heavyweight champion of the world. In reality Hayeís WBA strap is virtually meaningless in the history of the heavyweight championship. However, because Wladimir is still not proclaimed as the outright champion the world over, such promotional techniques are still employed.

Thirdly there is HBOís unfortunate decision to no longer air heavyweight championship fights. This sort of American unease when it comes to the Klitschkos has created a problem in how we define the lineal championship. It is not fair to assume that many American fans will still claim that the real heavyweight championship of the world is vacant.

Tonight at the commerzbank arena in Frankfurt, five years after they first redeemed the division, Wladimir Klitschko and Samuel Peter will contest the lineal and legitimate heavyweight championship of the world. It is a crying shame that HBO will not air this contest. However in time hopefully the record will show that the true heavyweight championship of the world was contested on this night. The heavyweight division may not be as strong as ever, but it is good enough. Furthermore we are blessed with a dominant champion precisely when we needed one.

I wish Samuel Peter the very best tonight. I have followed his career for the past five years and supported him throughout. Tonight is do or die for the Nigerian. Either finally realise his potential by giving the fight of his life, or bow out from the big time with an honourable and challenge to the throne. I still remember watching Peter dust himself off from Wladimirís right hands, shake his head and keep coming forward. Win or lose I hope he will be able to do the same tonight. Because ultimately, to see a challenger fight so valiantly for the belt, in a championís adopted home, will be precisely what the world needs from heavyweight boxing.

The best of luck to two fighters I have always admired: Wladimir Klitschko and Samuel Peter

Article posted on 11.09.2010



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