Tuesday, May 30, 2023  |


Peter has questions he must answer

Fighters Network

Samuel Peter has some questions to answer on Friday night in Los Angeles.

Peter, who faces Eddie Chambers at the Nokia Theater on ESPN2, was embarrassed in a one-sided loss to Vitali Klitschko in October that cost him his newly won WBC heavyweight title and damaged his reputation as a fearsome warrior.

Klitschko, fighting for the first time in nearly four years, deserves credit for his stunning performance but it also seemed as if Peter didn't show up. He was docile, not fearsome. He did little except take a pounding for eight full rounds — landing a total of only 73 punches — and then quit on his stool.

So which Peter will show up on Friday against a solid heavyweight in Chambers? The one who looked washed up at 28? Or the one who has knocked out 23 of his 30 victims?

“Fighters are always judged by what they did in their last fight,” said Ivaylo Gotzev, Peter's L.A.-based manager. “And the judgment hasn't been good for him. Everyone is doubting his ability, his commitment, etc.

“He's ready to prove everyone wrong and reign as heavyweight champion again.”

Peter's performance against Klitschko in the Ukrainian's adopted homeland of Germany remains baffling.

Gotzev and Co. have maintained that the “Nigerian Nightmare” — who lives in Las Vegas — was treated so poorly in Germany that it affected his performance, a claim Klitschko's people have denied. Gotzev also said Peter had a bad back leading up to the fight, which affected his training.

And, probably most important, Klitschko turned in a sterling performance and then dominated Juan Carlos Gomez in his next fight. Most experts simply feel Klitschko is better than Peter.

However, that fight is in the past. Gotzev said Peter has had a good training camp, will be in shape “100 percent” when he steps into the ring and will once again look like the next best thing to the dominating Klitschko brothers.

Peter (30-2, 23 knockouts) seems determined to get back what he lost.

“The most important thing for me is to get the belt back,” said Peter, who won the title prior to the Klitschko fight by stopping Oleg Maskaev in six rounds. “And this fight is a very good step back [toward that goal] for me. I have a lot of questions to answer and on March 27 I'll answer the questions.”

Chambers (33-1, 18 KOs) might provide an answer Peter isn't expecting.

The well-spoken fighter from Philadelphia is known for his quick hands and boxing skills more than his power, which is only adequate. He has the capability of frustrating an opponent with inferior skills, even one as strong as Peter.

Chambers' only loss was a decision to unbeaten Alexander Povetkin in a title eliminator in Germany, a competitive fight that Chambers might've won had he been busier.

“A lot of experts are calling this a dangerous fight (for Peter),” Gotzev said. “We didn't have to fight Chambers. We chose to fight him because beating him will prove a lot. It will put all the naysayers in their place.”

Peter's own countrymen appear to have their doubts.

One of them, Nigerian national boxing coach Obisia Nwankpa, told a Nigerian newspaper that Peter's lack of versatility — he knows how to fight only in one way, moving forward — could prove to be his downfall.

“In professional boxing, you change your approach as the rounds progress,” Nwankpa told The Guardian. “Peter is a one-way boxer and a one-way boxer has less advantage over his opponent. And if he continues like this, with what Klitschko did to him last year, every boxer he encounters will want to apply the same tactic when fighting him.

“In fact, as far as I am concerned, if he cannot find a better approach to his fighting style, I think he should just call it quits because, like I said, he was seriously exposed in his last fight and the chances of him making a comeback are very slim.”

Yes, the naysayers are everywhere, which is OK with Peter.

“This is a step up to where I'm going,” he said of Friday's fight, “because I'm not done yet.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected] Please note the new email address.