Raven All Wrong – Klitschko Wins Big Against Peter in Great Night At The Fights
26.09.05 - By Lee Hayes: Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you just are not. This past Saturday, September 24th, 2005 I was proven wrong by Ukrainian heavyweight boxer, Wladimir Klitschko. Since I have probably been the greatest detractor of the 6’6 fighter, and his fragile psyche, I will be the first to admit that I was proven incorrect.
Article posted on 26.09.2005
It will probably shock many of my regular readers to know that I am quite happy the fight went the way it did. First, I knew it would be a good match-up from the get go –although I had predicted Wlad’s doom early- and neither fighter let me down. The action was excellent, and right up until the final seconds, it appeared that either man could be stopped with a punch, if it landed right on the sweet spot. I’d like to personally thank both contestants for the show they put on, and HBO for allowing so many of us to view it without inflated PPV costs. Second, let me be the first to say, I would really like to see a rematch somewhere down the line, although I have doubts that it will ever happen.
I would like to state up front, that I do not apologize for the criticisms that I reigned on Klitschko since the annihilation that he faced against hard punching South African south paw, Corrie Sanders. I still feel to this day that the Sanders fight, and the subsequent years in pugilistic purgatory, that Wlad found himself in leading up to this fight were more than grounds for the scathing reviews that I wrote. That however, did not exclude the man from redeeming himself, and to me, he has. Not only because he thoroughly won the fight on Saturday night, but also because of the way he conducted himself in the lead up and after the fight was over.
Leading up to the fight, team Peter -led by the always crass and classless Dino Duva, in my opinion, - treated Klitschko and members of his team like literal garbage at the pre-fight press conference. His behavior was outragious and I couldn’t help enjoying the look on his face during the fight, and afterwards. Never has a man deserved and received a figurative kick in the crotch like Duva. Klitschko, for his part handled the situation with class, a confident grin, and he did his talking in the ring. The events were caused when Klitschko and his team showed up for the pre-fight presser, on-time (in fact a little early), and Peter failed to show up. Klitschko and his team had to have been nervous. This was a huge fight for them, and Wlad’s not exactly been a media darling in recent times (partially due to articles and comments from writers such as myself). One could see Klitschko, who has appeared to suffer from bouts of anxiety in recent pressure situations, being effected negatively under the circumstances.
In a situation that could have allowed Samuel to get the psychological advantage, Wlad turned a negative in to a positive, and passed the first test. His team attempted to hold the press conference without Peter. This is not a first in boxing, as unfortunately many times fighters do not show up and one man has to deal with the media on their own. Roy Jones Jr. vs. John Ruiz comes to mind as an example. Every time Klitschko’s team attempted to speak, Dino Duva made a complete ass out of himself, in my opinion, and walked up to the podium issuing insults and attempted to bully them. To their credit, they grinned at his ignorance and tried to carry on, despite his inappropriate behavior. Peter, for his part, inexcusably showed up several minutes late and looked like he was in no mood to be trifled with. Truthfully, despite reports claiming that either man looked “scared”, “intimidated” or “out of their league”, both men looked confident and in shape to go. I had a feeling that Wlad would not want to stare down Peter for too long, however, he did, and he probably surprised Peter himself with the confidence he exuded.
The fight itself was excellent, and the best part was that several questions were answered concerning both men. The most shocking revelation has to be finding out that Wladimir can in fact come back from the damage to his psyche and self confidence. We found out more about Klitschko, and it all looked positive. He has learned how to pace himself. He has found a way to overcome his stamina issue. He has learned how to correctly survive being wobbled or knocked down. I’ve never been that impressed with his footwork, and I never thought I’d see a man his size dance on his feet for twelve hard rounds, but, he did. He may be the only man that large that I’ve ever seen box at that level. Even Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe had to stand flat footed for more than half of their fights. Klitschko’s conditioning was excellent. His build looked like a fighter should be. He had obviously dropped all the crazy weight lifting that was more of a plus to his appearance, and much less to his abilities in the boxing ring.
I never doubted Klitschko’s offensive skills. In fact, I have often praised them. As his number one detractor, the reason I lost all faith in Wlad, had to do with his chin, and his obvious psychological demise. There have been so few fighters in history that have come back from setbacks the size of the left hands that Sanders imprinted on Klitschko. It wasn’t a personal vendetta. To me, it was more of a harsh reality. There are just not that many Lennox Lewis’s in the world, that have the ability to shrug off losses and rebound. The evidence pointed that Wlad was not one of these special men. The evidence however, like anything in life, is not a guaranteed constant. Klitschko now appears to be in that category of “special” boxers that are so talented that, even during the worst runs of their career, they are able to find “it” inside themselves, and rebound completely. Maybe this come back is even greater than the one that Lennox Lewis made after being one punch KO’d by Oliver McCall.
How would Lewis have faired if he had a rocky comeback trail the way Klitschko has? Would he still have gone on to be a legend, if he had suffered a loss the way Wlad did against Brewster so early in his return to the ring? It’s hard to say, but one thing is for sure, Klitschko is back in the heavyweight picture, big time. This is even more evident when you examine the current champions in the division. Regular readers of East Side Boxing –by far the best website covering boxing on the net- know that I am a fan and admirer of Chris Byrd. I have nothing but nice things to say about Chris, and I enjoy all of his fights. With that said if Wladimir Klitschko is able to continue where he left off against Peter, I think he would probably beat Chris right now. He could most definitely beat John Ruiz as well. I’ll be looking forward to both of those fights, should they happen.
Samuel Peter also answered many of the questions we had regarding him. Is he still the new heir to the throne? Possibly, but I highly doubt it with his current team. He is still a very crude slugger that needs to learn to shorten his punches and understand that he doesn’t have to take his opponents head off with every bear swing he throws. There were plenty of opportunities for Sam to nail Wlad, and he was missing by inches, because he seemed completely incapable of throwing anything remotely similar to a straight cross. If he doesn’t sharpen up those skills, he’s just as likely to be the next poor-mans Ray Mercer, as he is of being the next George Foreman. Still, the raw power is evident, and he will almost definitely win a title at some point down the line. We wanted to know if he could take shots from a big puncher, and he proved that he could. His chin was as good as anyone we’ve seen since David Tua’s heyday.
Several of the right hands that Klitschko landed would have felled top twenty heavyweights, but Sam shrugged off everything until finally being wobbled in the final round. He also proved that his power carries over against better competition. Klitschko was clearly shaken by nearly every flush blow Peter landed. He also showed that he is nearly impossible to deter, and another reason why I feel he may turn out to be more of a Ray Mercer than a Big George. But hey! So what if he did? Wouldn’t a prime Ray Mercer have a good chance of winning a title and shaking up the division if he were around right now? I personally believe so.
Just a few closing comments on the fight to give my final words, and to hopefully clear up a few controversies;
1. The two “knock downs” in the 5th round were not caused by legal blows. Randy Neumann is possibly the worst referee in modern history, in my opinion. He did an even worse job when officiating John Ruiz vs. Andrew Golota, and he’s not going to get any better, as far as I can see. It’s time for someone to relinquish his license before someone gets fatally injured by a rabbit punch while he’s refereeing. I couldn’t believe my eyes when Peter wasn’t even warned, let alone deducted a point for fouling. Neumann looks like an orangutan in the ring, and he has to be blind based on some of his calls/non-calls. Now some will say that Wlad kept turning his head away and that’s why he was being fouled, but I disagree. Yes, he did turn his head, but there were plenty of flagrant punches to the back of the head when they were in a clinch and when Wlad’s head was not turned that made it obvious where those shots were going. I do not think Peter purposely fouled, I think that’s just what happens when you throw nothing but wild over hand punches and hooks. They don’t end up landing on the front of the intended targets face most of the time. Peter should have lost at least one point during that round.
2. Some have claimed that Klitschko held too much, and that he as well should have been penalized. I would have to disagree. I’ve been one of his biggest critics –rightfully so- for his lack of ability to recoup from being hurt or knocked down. He showed that he was capable of handling the pressure in several ways during this fight, when in the past he seemed unable to even do one. He held, yes, but not excessively in my opinion. He also fired back with hard shots when wobbled on more than one occasion. In fact, that’s what he did when he got up from the first “knock down”. I was impressed. He also turned Peter when he was wobbled; making sure Samuel was not in position to land one of his devastating left hooks. He also used his long jab effectively to allow himself some time to recover. That to me is a fighter that has a complete knowledge of how to survive being hurt in the ring. A complete change around from the past and a lot of credit needs to go to Emanuel Steward, who has done an excellent job with Wlad and also to Wlad himself for training his brain to react properly to these circumstances.
In conclusion, I would like to say that I am a fan of this new Wlad, a man who doesn’t dance around with streamers and fireworks for an hour after beating an opponent. A more complete fighter, who has regained his lost confidence, and a boxer with the offensive tools to out box most of the men currently in the division. I also like Samuel Peter, and appreciate what he went through on Saturday to finish the fight. He’s got the chin, power and raw ability to make the division worth watching. I would really enjoy seeing a rematch.
Where does this leave the division? Who should Wlad fight next? What about Peter? In my opinion, the division is right on top where it belongs. There are now several compelling match-ups. I strongly believe that an area Wladimir still deserves criticism in is his failure to secure rematches against the three men that have beaten him. Since Lamon Brewster still possesses Wlad’s old WBO heavyweight belt, and this Peter fight was for the number 1 ranking with the IBF and WBO, Wlad should rematch Lamon. It’s a particularly interesting fight considering the way Brewster easily dispatched Andrew Golota in his last outing and with Wlad’s recent performance. I think if Klitschko was able to win that fight, then he should pursue John Ruiz.
I think that Ruiz would be easily dominated by Wlad, and then Klitschko would possess both the WBO and WBA belts. I think that Vitali should be the one trying to rematch Byrd, and not Wladimir, until after Vitali has faced his one time conqueror. Peter? Back to the drawing board, he needs a new trainer. Someone that can train him to throw shorter, more accurate punches, and someone that will teach him that “upper body movement” requires more than flinching your eyebrows. Buddy McGirt, Joe Goosen or Eastside Boxings own John “Ice Man” Scully would be excellent choices. He should take some time off and then try sign a fight with Shannon Briggs or Jameel McCline. As long as the road leads back to a rematch between Peter and Klitschko, I’ll be happy. Both men earned it.
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