Peter Bests Toney In Heavyweight Elimination

By Francis Walker
Updated: September 4, 2006

NEW YORK — Samuel Peter won a twelve round split decision against James Toney on Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in a fight to determine the No. 1 contender to face WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskeav in early 2007. Maskaev, two weeks ago, earned a second knockout victory in a rematch against Hasim Rahman to win the championship.

“Toney’s a great champion [and] pound-for-pound boxer,” Peter said afterwards. “He’s a rock, a solid guy.” Toney (69-5-3, 43 KOs), a former middleweight, super middleweight, light-heavyweight, and cruiserweight champion, was on a quest to earn another chance to fight for a world heavyweight title.

Toney’s WBA heavyweight title win against John Ruiz was changed to a no-contest after testing positive for steroids in April 2005.

Toney, at 237 pounds appeared out of shape when he fought Rahman to a 12-round draw for the WBC heavyweight title in March.

Toney’s road to another heavyweight title opportunity stopped at Peter, the young powerful, 25-year-old Nigerian heavyweight contender who has captured headlines for his spectacular knockouts.

Peter appeared to be headed toward a world title shot when he carried his undefeated record in an IBF heavyweight title elimination bout against Wladimir Klitschko in Nov. 2005.

Peter (27-1, 22 KOs) knocked Klitschko down three times in the fight. However, Klitschko who went on to win a unanimous decision 114-111 on all three judges’ scorecards. It was clear Peter had KO-power, but his boxing ability was questioned.

Peter vs. Toney was suppose to have been an explosive contest between a slick counterpunching former middleweight champion and a powerful African upstart fresh in the heavyweight title picture.

Instead, Peter-Toney was a contest between two heavyweights who appeared to be fatigued and overweight. Peter weighed a career-high 257 pounds; compared to Toney who weighed 233 (Toney has weighed 230 or more in his last four fights).

Fights are won and lost in training camp. Training camp has become a struggle for fighters to lose weight rather than improving punching accuracy, timing, balance, and sharpness. Heavyweights like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Ken Norton, Sonny Liston, Joe Louis, and more recently Evander Holyfield, and Lennox Lewis always improved as fighters because weight was never an issue.

Both Toney and Peter should have been in better shape, especially Toney. It would have made for a better fight, especially since Toney was 1) the more experienced fighter and 2) within the past five fights fought Rahman, heavyweight upstart Dominick Guinn, defeated Ruiz and Holyfield.

Peter was always a big heavyweight, who could have been better conditioned. Throwing one punch at a time is not good enough to beat some of the other heavyweights who can box and throw punches.

Toney slipped punches and threw jabs, but at 38 and more than 70 pounds separated from the weight-classes he was once named the best fighter in the world “pound-for-pound,” Toney was only a shell of himself.

Peter didn’t throw wild punches as he’s accustomed. He wanted to show the boxing world that he could beat a boxer. Peter was smart enough to throw punches that landed anywhere because he knew Toney was so poorly conditioned and overweight that he couldn’t dodge punches.

When Peter pressed forward he did pressure Toney against the ropes a number of occasions in each of the first five rounds.

“He’s alright puncher, but I’ve been in with better,” Toney said about Peter. “I’m not bruised. He’s all cut up, busted up.” The pace of the fight dramatically slowed down past the seventh round. Both fighters did a lot of stalling and throwing one off balanced punch at a time. Peter was docked done point in the ninth round for twice hitting Toney on both ears on the ropes while the referee called break.

Both fighters finished strong, but two of the three judges score the fight 116-111 (twice) for Peter. The third had it 115-112 for Toney.

“You didn’t win the fight,” Toney said to Peter afterward. I’ll be back. [I’m] no quitter. Everybody in the world saw I won this fight.

Evander Holyfield Is Back Believe it or not, former four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield is no longer retired. Holyfield has returned to the pro-fight scene and has already posted a victory.

The victim: journeyman Jeremy Bates, a human punching bag who Holyfield disposed, via second-round TKO.

Holyfield, at 43, is on an ongoing quest to recapture the Undisputed World Heavyweight championship before he retires. The goal appears to be very unrealistic, especially since Holyfield is winless in 7 of his last 10 fights.

Holyfield was suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission in August months after his lopsided 12-round decision loss to Larry Donald at Madison Square Garden. Holyfield was reissued a boxing license in Texas to resume his boxing career.

Holyfield is the only fighter in boxing history to unify the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions. Holyfield has a storied career which includes two consecutive victories over Mike Tyson (Tyson was disqualified for biting Holyfield’s ear off in the famous June 1998 rematch).