Klitschko Survives Scare, Outpoints Peter to Earn No. 1 Spot

By Francis Walker
Updated: September 25, 2005

NEW YORK – A victory would guarantee either Sam Peter or Wladimir Klitschko a No. 1-ranking in both the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Organization rankings. Peter scored three knockdowns.

On several occasions Klitschko was one punch away from his career as a legitimate heavyweight contender salvaged.

But Klitschko, surprisingly, managed to resurrect his falling career; winning a close 12-round unanimous decision Saturday on Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ.

All three judges scored the bout 114-111 for Klitschko, who has an opportunity to either avenge his loss to WBO champ, Brewster or a rematch against IBF champ, Chris Byrd. Klitschko beat Byrd several years ago.

“What can I say?” Peter (24-1, 20 KOs) asked. “He just wins today. I’m a fighter, I fight. It’s the judges’ decision. I didn’t do what I was supposed to at the right times.”

Klitschko (45-3, 40 KOs), the mammoth 6′ 7,” 243 pound younger brother of WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, entered his bout against Peter, a younger, hungrier, and perhaps more devastating puncher, with his career in limbo.

Klitschko has great power, size, and is very athletic. But all three of his losses were terrible knockout losses to Ross Purity (TKO by 11), Corrie Sanders (TKO by 3) and Lamon Brewster (KO 5). His stamina was questioned, as many doubted his ability to dominate the heavyweight division along with his brother.

Emmanuel Steward, the same man who trained Lennox Lewis to two heavyweight championships and spectacular victories against Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman, and Michael Grant (to name a few), promptly prepared Klitschko for war against Peter.

“His experience paid off and the jab was the key,” Steward remarked.

It was clear that Steward’s presence and skills shined through Wladimir. Klitschko, 29, Kiev, Ukriane, was able to keep the 6′ 2,” 240-pound Peter, 24, Nigeria, on the outside of his left jabs. Klitschko would also follow through with straight-rights.

Klitschko would use his long arms (remember he’s 6′ 7,”) to block Peter’s wild punches. He also moved his shoulders to avoid contact from Peter. Klitschko was able to move around the ring, displaying better hand, eye, and foot coordination.

Steward looked like a genius and Klitschko appeared dominant against a two-handed power puncher.

All was well, until the fifth round.

Klitschko, along with his followers, pushed the panic button when Peter scored two knockdowns midway through the round. Klitschko appeared fatigued and off-balanced. It looked as through Klitschko would get knocked out again, the same way Brewster and Sanders dismantled him to pieces.

The difference was that Steward was in Klitschko’s corner and he trained Klitschko to hold whenever he was hurt.

Swelling rapidly emerged around Peter’s eyes. Klitschko jabbed and clinched Peter, who kept walking into Wladimir’s power trying in vain to land one homerun shot that would end the fight.

Peter actually stunned Klitschko in tenth round before knocking him down again in the tenth round with a hard right to his chin. Klitschko showed plenty of heart, returning to his feet to stun Peter twice in the final round.

“Samuel Peter has a very strong chin,” Klitschko said. “He has an unorthodox style.”

In the co-feature, which was also televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark, undefeated junior welterweight prospect, Miguel Cotto (25-0, 21 KOs) survived a second-round knockdown and a brutal assault in the fifth round to KO undefeated prospect, Ricardo Torres (28-1, 26 KOs) at 1:52 of round seven.

The bout was an entertaining slugfest, as Cotto knocked Torres down midway through the first round. Torres, relentless and confident, returned the favor in round two, nearly forcing a TKO-stoppage.

“I thought it was a great fight between us,” said Cotto. “There’s not much I can say, it was a good fight.”

Torres stunned Cotto with hard right hands and fought effectively on the inside. However, he simply did not have the stamina to outlast Cotto, who ened the fight on a barrage of unanswered punches.

Klitschko vs. Rahman

While Wladimir Klitschko restructured his career, his brother Vitali (35-2, 34 KOs) will continue his reign on top the heavyweight division when he defends the WBC title against former WBC/IBF and current WBC “interim champion,” Hasim Rahman (41-5-1, 33 KOs) on November 12th. The bout will be the main event of an HBO Pay Per View broadcast.

Vitali was supposed to have fought Rahman in April. The bout was twice postponed when Vitali underwent surgeries on his knee and lower back.

“I am so happy he’s not chicken anymore,” Rahman said. “We’re finally getting in the ring. I’m glad he’s all healed up. I just hope and pray he doesn’t stub his toe or prick his finger before November 12th.”

Rahman, instead of battling Klitschko, was forced to fight his good friend Monte Barrett in August for the WBC “interim” title. Rahman won a 12-round decision to secure his long-awaited title shot. If Klitschko was unable to fight Rahman, then Rahman would be declared the new WBC champion.

“You talk about me; I am chicken to fight you. That’s not true,” Klitschko said. “I bring you dessert on November 12th.”

Rahman, who knocked out Lennox Lewis in April 2001 to capture the WBC/IBF crowns, lost the belts to Lewis in a rematch that November. He lost a heavyweight-title eliminator to former four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield in June 2002. In December 2003, Rahman lost a 12-round bid to win the WBA heavyweight title against John Ruiz.

Rahman spent 2004 resurrecting is career. He went 5-0, 4 KOs to emerge as the biggest threat to Vitali, who has not fought in more than nine months.

“I saw him a week after the alleged injuries and he’s walking around like he is today,” Rahman said. “I have my suspicions. He’s in a big-boy game.”

Klitschko-Rahman will be promoted by Bob Arum of Top Rank, who outbid Don King Productions in the summer. Klitschko will earn $7.8 million, as opposed to Rahman’s $4.2 million.