More On Peters Vs. Toney and Showtime Boxing

By Tom Donelson
Updated: September 5, 2006

NEW YORK — James Toney is one of the all time greats. For nearly two decades, this warrior has fought many of the best fighters of his generation from Middleweights to heavyweights. Against Sam Peter, one of the Heavyweight division heavy-handed sluggers, Toney escaped danger time and time again.

In a close fight that saw him on the losing end of a split decision, Toney’s jab found its mark repeatedly. There were times that the old boxer found himself stunned but he not only survived but he bloodied both the nose and lips of the stronger Peter.

This fight could have easily been scored in Toney’s favor and most ringside observers including Showtime Al Bernstein had Toney winning the fight.

On paper, this was a fight that should never have gone the distance. Peter was younger, stronger and had the bigger punch. Yet, Toney threw accurate combinations and if he was not dodging Peter sledgehammer punches, he took them.

Say what you want about Toney, the guy can take a punch. Toney was one of those rare fighters who could do it all in the ring. He could fight from the outside and box or he could fight inside. He could counter you off the ropes or he could simply embarrass you in the middle of the ring.

If Toney showed his greatness, Peter showed improvement from his last big fight with Wladimir Klitschko. In that latter fight, Peter followed the Ukrainian around the ring and Klitschko continuously peppered Peter with his piston like jab. Peter never cut off the ring and he rarely punched the body.

In this fight, Toney forced Peter to adopt and changed his style. His clubbing, wide punches often missed their targets and Toney countered Peter misses. As the fight progressed, Peter did two things. First, he shortened his right hand and started to use his left hook to Toney’s body.

The hooks downstairs gave Peter opportunities to hit Toney with his more effective short right hand. The second thing that Peter did was to throw more punches and keep busier. While Toney was the more accurate punches, Peter aggressiveness allowed him to take many of the close rounds on two of the judges’ scorecards. Peter victory now puts him in position to challenge Oleg Maskaev in a fight that promises fireworks.

However, Peter still showed weakness. He did not often use his weight and power to its utmost advantage and his conditioning showed weakness during the match. Against a smaller and lighter puncher, Peter couldn’t press his advantage and there were times that he failed to follow up on Toney after getting Toney hurt.

Peter’s defensive skills are still lacking, as he proved easy to hit. It could be argued that Toney has embarrassed many of his opponents with his boxing skills but Peter defensive liability could be disastrous against a heavy handed opponent like Maskaev.

This match shows that there is life in the heavyweight division and Peter is one of those crowd-pleasing fighters, who can end a fight with just one punch. This fight was competitive and tough. If nothing else, the heavyweight division does have some good fighters and is a better division that one supposes. And there are some great match ups coming up.

Beside a future Maskaev-Peter bout, Wladimir Klitschko faces the undefeated Calvin Brock in what promises to be a key match up that will go a long way to deciding who is the best heavyweight. The top ten heavyweights on paper are competitive with each other, which means future competitive match ups will be made.

SHOBOX VS. HBO For many TV critics and boxing pundits, Showtime plays Avis to HBO Hertz but after 20 years of trying harder, they have caught up with HBO. Showtime strategy has centers on two strong programming, SHOBOX and the regular Showtime features. SHOBOX: The New Generation has provided young fighters with television exposure and given Showtime an effective learning ground for young stars.

The new IBF featherweight Robert Guerrero is one example of this strategy. A regular fighter on the SHOBOX series, boxing fans saw Guerrero grow up as a fighter and when he faced Eric Aiken for the IBF title; he was already a known commodity. HBO has featured stars but their attempt to build up new stable of fighters has failed whereas Showtime succeeded. Guerrero is just one example of a young fighter making the jump from SHOBOX to world champion. Ricky Hatton is another example of this strategy.

And the Showtime announcing team once again showed it has what it takes to educate boxing fans. Al Bernstein had Toney winning the fight but correctly noted that many of the rounds were closed and that there could be wide disparity in scoring, even in Peter favor. The scores demonstrated Bernstein acumen but then Bernstein has been one of the best when it came to covering boxing.

Another surprise was Diego Corrales, who showed that he has a career waiting after his boxing days are over. He made his points succinctly and appeared comfortable behind the mike while commenting on the Guerrero-Aiken fight. He predicated the eventual end of the fight as his observations on the fight trend proved accurate. His boxing skills translated into concise comments about the action unfolding in front of the audience.

Next month, SHOBOX continues its Super Middleweight tournaments and Diego Corrales fights Joel Casamayor to end their trilogy. While HBO sends its best matches PPV for high price, Showtime provides quality fights where most boxing fans can actually see them without paying extra for the privilege.