Boxing


Klitschko - Peter: Observations, Rants and Raves

26.09.05 - By Michael Montero: I know, I know – yet another article on this fight. Hey, let’s face it – we haven’t had much to talk about in the heavyweight division lately – and this was an important, and entertaining, heavyweight bout. Several questions were answered, and yet still a few remain. Upon watching the fight three times, and dissecting it, here’s my break down:

My analysis of the fight:

Besides the 5th and 10th rounds, in which he made critical defensive errors, Klitschko controlled the entire fight. I scored it 115-109 in favor of the Ukrainian – scoring the 3rd round 9-9 (due to Peter’s bomb at the end of the round and Klitschko’s heavy clinching), the 5th round 9-8 for Peter (counting only one knock down, as the 2nd was clearly a push, and taking a point from Peter for rabbit punching), and the 10th round 10-8 for Peter (for the solid, and clean, knock down of Klitschko). I had every other round 10-9 in favor of Klitschko (you could argue that the 6th round was a 10-8 round for Klitschko as Peter failed to land anything, and Klitschko landed several shots without holding once). Samuel Peter was clearly the aggressor, always coming forward. Wladimir Klitschko fought in a mostly defensive stance, but poured on enough offense to clearly win the majority of the rounds. “The Nigerian Nightmare” showed very little technique and athleticism, but an iron chin, along with a big heart and solid determination. He was off balance several times after missing with wild shots, and a more offensive-minded Klitschko could have taken advantage of that. CompuBox numbers showed that Klistchko landed 204 out of 523 total punches (39%), and Peter landed 100 out of 440 (23%) as Klitschko beat Peter in every punching category. All in all, it was an entertaining heavyweight fight complete with drama, fireworks, and anxiety for fans of both warriors.

The “knockdowns”

In my opinion, there was only one legit knockdown in the fight – which was in the 10th round. The first knockdown in the 5th round was the obvious result of a rabbit punch. Peter was rabbit punching and hitting off breaks from the first round, and Wlad should have remembered the #1 rule in boxing – “protect yourself at all times”. The referee incorrectly scored this as a knockdown, and failed to warn Peter for blatant rabbit punching. The second knockdown, also in the 5th, was the result of a push, and nothing more (although Peter continued his illegal rabbit punching). Again, the referee incorrectly counted this as a knockdown. As a result of poor officiating, the 5th was scored as a 10-7 round for Peter by all three judges. This made the fight appear much closer than it really was. The third and final knockdown was completely legit. Wlad made a HUGE fundamental error by backing into the ropes, only to take a huge shot from Sam, than ran away with his hands down, only to take another shot to the chin that dropped him. This is something we’ve seen from Klitschko before (remember the Brewster fight?) I honestly believe he was saved by the bell in the 10th. Had that knockdown happened in the beginning of the round – I think Peter would have earned a 10th round TKO victory.

What did Sam show us?

The freakishly strong Nigerian proved to the world that he can take a punch – and he continued to show us what we already knew – that he packs some serious power. However at the same time he proved to be easy to hit, and seems unable to throw a straight punch. His weapon is his left hook – that’s about it. Neutralize that weapon by staying back, moving to his left, and bruising his face with jabs – and you can beat him. It’s clear that the man’s goal is to back his opponent into the ropes, and throw wild haymakers until something big lands. He is also content to fight dirty on the inside, blatantly throwing rabbit punches – especially during clinching and coming off breaks. The question is will the man improve as a fighter? Will he use this loss as a learning lesson and get better?

Most of the top fighters in the heavyweight division could probably out-box Peter to a unified decision, yet only a few could actually knock him out. At the same time – with his power, chin, and determination – Sam could knock out any of the top heavies on any given night with one punch (if he can land it). Bottom line – this guy is hittable and beatable – but will be a tall order for anybody in the division to defeat.

What did Wlad show us?

Well he showed us that he can get off the canvas, collect himself, and come back to win a fight. He showed us that he can last 12 rounds with a guy constantly putting pressure on him. He showed us that the fire is back, with the confidence and killer instinct slowly returning to boot. Though he did show some improved defensive fundamentals - he still has gaping holes in his defense. When seriously hurt he panics, backs up with his arms flailing (and no guard), and leaves himself open to taking a big shot. He simply MUST fix this bad habit if he wants to be champion again.

There’s also room for offensive improvement - when he has his opponent off balance, he needs to go for the kill. He also needs to punch at angles – instead of standing right in front of a guy and hitting him with straight rights. The only punch that seriously hurt Peter (in the final frame) was a left hook from a sideways angle. Peter looked like he was going to collapse right then and there from that single blow. Had Klitschko thrown 5 or 6 of those throughout the fight – we would have never scene the 12th round. The question of stamina is a question no more. Round after round, Peter looked slower, and Klitschko still looked fresh. As the bell rang for each round, Wladdy was waiting in the middle of the ring for his opponent. Even after the fight, he looked like he could go a few more with no problem.

What did Randy Neumann show us?

That it’s time to hang it up and do something else. He got on Wladimir’s case for holding several times – but only mentioned rabbit punching once or twice to Samuel. He certainly could have given a warning to Klitschko for holding - but there was absolutely no doubt that he should have warned, and penalized, Peter for constant illegal hits to the back of the head. Without a doubt, Peter should have eventually had a point deducted for his tactics. I counted 25 rabbit punches (including hitting on the break - as well as hitting behind, and on top of, the head) in the fight – this is completely unacceptable. Not even an official warning? Are you sh*tting me? I counted 66 clinches for Klitschko. Over a 12 round fight that’s nowhere near extreme – especially given the fact that he didn’t clinch at all in the 6th and 12th rounds. A fighter is supposed to clinch when he’s too close, and/or in trouble – and that’s what Klitschko did. Averaging a little under 6 clinches a round over a physical 12 round bout may not be too pleasing to the eye – but let’s be real people - it’s nowhere near John Ruiz’s output!

Another thing, in the 10th round when Peter floored Klitschko, Neumann should have made him walk to the farthest corner. It is common knowledge that anytime a fighter is knocked down, the referee is supposed to make the other man go to the farthest corner and wait. That’s elementary officiating, it’s nothing new. Anyway, I honestly feel that it’s time for Randy to do something else – b/c he incorrectly scored two knockdowns, and failed to penalize a guy who was clearly throwing illegal punches throughout the fight. Had this contest been remotely close – these officiating failures could have seriously affected the outcome of the fight.

Post-fight comments:

After the fight the men’s faces reflected the judges’ decision. While Klitshcko had some slight bruising and swelling under his left eye (caused more by heads colliding than punches), Peter’s eyes were almost swollen shut, and he had been bleeding from the nose and mouth through the end of the fight. Klitschko told HBO’s Larry Merchant that “Peter is a strong fighter with a good chin, but not much technique”. He also mentioned the rabbit punching, and even looked upset about it as he was pacing back and forth (as if he was still in the rhythm of the fight) while talking to Larry. Peter looked exhausted, and he looked defeated while stating “he beat me, what can I say?” to Merchant. He refused to give Klitschko any credit however, blaming his loss on his opponent’s holding. After the fight, Wlad told reporters that he would prefer to fight Brewster to “answer questions” – let’s hope that’s not all talk. This would be another good one.

Rematch?

At the post-fight press conference Peter’s manager demanded a rematch, which is just ridiculous. If the situation was reversed, Peter’s camp wouldn’t want to go backwards either – they’d want to go after a belt as the current IBF/WBO mandatory. Perhaps in the future Klitschko will hold one of those belts, and Peter will earn a mandatory position. Then, and only then, should these guys do a rematch. Besides, if they did an immediate rematch we’d only see more of the same – the better boxer out-boxing the plodding brawler.

What does the future hold for both men?

Peter stepped into the spotlight on Saturday night, now he needs to keep with Nigerian express rolling. There is nothing wrong with one “tune-up” fight against a gate keeper – but then he needs to go after a top ten guy. I would favor him to KO Monte Barrett, Jameel McCline, Kirk Johnson and Davarryl Williamson. A fight with Calvin Brock is a toss up, and I would expect James Toney to out-box him. Fundamentally Peter needs to work on his foot movement, and learn to box. He also needs to learn that there’s more to boxing that throwing looping left hooks, hoping to catch a guy with a big bomb. Although power will always give you a chance to win, a fighter MUST be able to box himself back into contention when he’s behind on points.

For Klitschko there’s only one choice – Lamon Brewster. In this rematch he could accomplish several things. Not only would he be avenging a loss, but he’d also be defeating another heavy handed, heavy chinned slugger. This would silence even more of his critics, and prove that the man is serious about taking on the most dangerous opponents out there. Finally, it would give him a belt alongside his big brother – something that they have always dreamed about. If and only if Brewster loses to Luan Krasniqi later this week – should Wladdy go after Chris Byrd. Fundamentally Klitschko needs to learn to stay away from the ropes, keep those hands up, and to protect himself at all times (including breaks). The defense still has holes in it, but it’s getting better. As long as he stays in the middle of the ring he can out-box most, if not all, of the top heavies out there – and simply over-power the others.

Where are all the haters at?

I’ve seen pic after pic on this site’s message boards of Klitschko picking himself up off the canvas, and/or taking a huge shot. Yet I have yet to see one of Roy Jones Junior lying unconscious after the light-hitting Glen Johnson put him to sleep. It’s time for the haters to give credit where credit is due. Both Peter and Klitschko deserve credit for taking this fight – and finishing this fight. Both were hurt, both could have quit – and neither did. While Peter showed his limitations, he showed that he is for real – and he’s a legitimate contender. Klistchko proved that he is improving on his defense (and his confidence), and still has the potential to be a dominant champion. Lennox Lewis was another talented giant who didn’t like to be hit – infact he was knocked OUT twice during his career. But he learned to fight without getting hit, by improving his defense, and came back to avenge his embarrassing losses and become the unified heavyweight champion of the world. Now he is heralded as one of the all time great heavyweights. The haters continued hating on Lennox until he retired and now those same hypocrites are missing him – Lewis laughed all the way to the bank and retired as champ. There’s been a lot of Klitschko bashing leading up to this fight – yet Wladimir proved his haters wrong. My advice to him is – use Lewis’ example. Let the haters hate – just keep doing your thing…

That being said, I know the haters are going to come for me now that I’ve written this - come with it. I am a fan of both of these fighters for different reasons. I feel that they are both flawed (they are human remember?) but both have potential. And while Peter needs vast improvement in several areas, Klitschko’s time is now. Both men can use this fight as a platform – for Peter it means working towards becoming a champion in the not-so-distant future – for Klitschko is means taking control of his destiny, with the opportunity presently in front of him, and once again becoming a champion. One thing’s for sure, whenever/wherever/whoever these guys are fighting – I’ll be watching. Both men are warriors and have won me over as a fan. Agree? Disagree? Comments? Suggestions? Send your praises, and/or hate mail, to mike@michael-montero.com – ciao!

Article posted on 26.09.2005



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