Why did Peter struggle vs. Klitschko?
LOS ANGELES — The last time we saw Samuel Peter he was being pummeled by Vitali Klitschko.
Of course, all credit must go to the big Ukrainian, who returned from a four-year hiatus to make the then-WBC titleholder quit on this stool after eight rounds last October in Berlin. He won everyone’s Comeback of the Year Award.
At the same time, Peter didn’t look like the fierce Peter of old. It was as if he didn’t show up.
Peter and his handlers, in Los Angeles on Thursday to promote his fight against Eddie Chambers here on March 27 on ESPN2, pointed to the way he was treated in Klitschko’s adopted country of Germany.
They refused to go into specifics, repeatedly saying that they only want to look forward. However, they insist that the actions of Klitschko’s handlers, the WBC and other officials threw their fighter off.
“It didn’t affect Samuel’s performance, it guided his performance,” Ivaylo Gotzev, Peter’s manager, said of the distractions.
The one example they cited was the fact the contract was consummated only hours before the fight, meaning it could’ve been canceled at the last minute. Peter said he didn’t know whether he would fight until it was almost time to step into the ring.
Again, they wouldn’t go into detail but implied that the delay was calculated and only one of many ploys used to rattle Peter.
“They’ll do anything to give their fighter an edge,” said Dino Duva, Peter’s promoter.
Or, as Peter put it, “Everything was wrong.”
Shelly Finkel, Klitschko’s advisor, and Tom Loeffler, director of his promotional firm, said Peter and Co. are only making excuses.
They both said the contract was delayed primarily because of issues between Duva and Don King, who had a promotional stake in Peter, although Loeffler acknowledged that there also was some wrangling between the camps.
Finkel acknowledged that, yes, the fight could’ve been canceled had the contract not been signed. However, Loeffler added that his fighter was in the same state of uncertainty as Peter.
“It didn’t seem to distract Vitali that the contract wasn’t signed,” Loeffler said.
And Finkel pointed out that Peter, as the titleholder at the time, received the lion’s share of the purse – better than two thirds of it.
“Look, a lot of other people have fought over in Germany against the brothers (Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko),” Finkel said. “Not one has said he was treated unfairly. They were paid an outrageous amount of money to fight there. Vitali wanted a title shot, got it and proved himself in the ring.
“They can say what they want. When (Peter was hit) in the first round, he realized this guy was bigger and stronger than he was and it became a different fight.”
One veteran boxing observer, who requested anonymity, wonders whether Peter is a shot fighter.
Finkel doesn’t believe that’s far off the mark even though Peter had won his previous six fights and had lost only one other time, a unanimous decision to Wladimir in 2005.
“I don’t think he was ever the same after the fight with Wladimir,” Finkel said. “And the fight against Jameel McCline (in 2007); he was down three times. I just don’t think he’s the same fighter.”
Gotzev and Duva bristle at that notion. And they believe Peter will prove them right.
The fact Peter took the fight with someone as solid as Chambers, they say, is a big statement in itself. They say most fighters in Peter’s position would’ve taken an easy fight coming off such a devastating loss.
And they say that when he beats Chambers – and looks like the old Peter in the process – it will be the first step toward regaining the heavyweight title.
“We’re looking for fresh start; Eddie Chambers gives us a fresh start,” Gotzev said. “Fighters are always judged by their last fight but this is a new beginning for us. Judge us by what happens on March 27.
“Whatever happened in Germany should stay in Germany ÔÇª because it stinks.”
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]