Analysis: Peter Dodged A Bullet

By Tom Donelson
Updated: October 7, 2007

IOWA CITY, Ia. — This was desperation time for Jameel McCline. At the age of 37, McCline was facing the elimination fight of his career and recovering from a serious knee injury suffered in his last fight against Nickolay Valuev.

And if that was not enough, the N.Y. Daily News reported that McCline had used performance enhancing drugs.

With a dark cloud hanging for him, he wandered into the ring all business and minus the usual marching music that accompanies fighters on their slow walk to the ring.

For Samuel Peter, this was to be his coronation of the new king of the heavyweights. With Oleg Maskaev out with a back injury, Peter decided to fight McCline, who was a late entry after his fight with Vitali Klitschko was canceled due to a back injury.

Two weeks ago, McCline was scheduled to fight DaVarryl Williamson when the Klitschko fight got canceled, but the injury to Maskaev provided McCline one more opportunity to win a championship.As for Peter, he wanted a spectacular knockout to send a message to the rest of the heavyweights that he was the guy.

Peter, a raw talent with knock out power, showed improvement in his second fight with Toney, demonstrating more deft defense and more variety of punches. He shorten his punches and used his jab more effective and one jab sent Toney down and won a easy decision in their second fight.

For the first 5: 59, Samuel showed off the new Peter.

He jabbed his way in and neutralized the taller McCline. Powerful shots landed on McCline’s face and body, forcing him to retreat.

In the last 10 seconds of the second round, Peter unleashed a wild left followed by a wild right.

The wild right left Peter unbalanced and vulnerable and McCline uncorked a picture perfect uppercut, sending Peter to the canvas for the first time in his career.

The third round would be decisive for both men and their careers. Still shaken from his knockdown of the previous right, Peter found himself under a barrage of McCline punches.

An overhand right sent Peter down and he wobbled back up.A minute later, a McCline combination pummeled Peter and he hit the canvas for a third time. McCline had the opportunity of a lifetime as he had the championship within his grasp.

One more punch and a dream would be realized. With over half of the round left, Peter was in survival mode.McCline pursued and Peter held on for dear life.

In the last 30 seconds, McCline’s punches lost steam and Peter stayed alive.

Just as Jermaine Taylor failed to finish up Kelly Pavlik the week before when he had the opportunity, McCline’s failure to finish Peter would cost him his final shot at a Heavyweight title.

From the fifth round on, Peter took control of the fight.

He returned to the strategy that won him the first 5:59. He jabbed his way back in and nailed McCline with ferocious body shots.

With each round, McCline’s output diminished. Body shots and vicious clubbing right hands forced McCline to retreat and his 37-year-old body started to betray him.

In the beginning of the fight, McCline had superior hand speed, but by the time the championship round occurred, the hand speed slowed down. Peter put combinations together and fought smart as he started to take round after round.

What McCline did show was heart and grit as he took Peter’s best shots and refused to go down. This fight showed the difference between a good fighter and a championship elite fighter.

Good fighters beat fighters of similar skills but they will come up short against elite fighters. Elite fighters find a way to win fights, even when they are not at their best.

McCline fought as well as he has fought in years but he came up short.

Peter was nearly knocked out and way behind on points after three rounds, but he came back to win.

Peter showed a weakness, but he also showed one strength, the toughness to survive and the punching power to stay in a fight. While he never knocked down McCline, his body shots slowed him down and his youth wore down the older fighter.

McCline fought from desperation knowing that he needed to win or his days as a championship contender were over. This was his last shots and he came in shape to rumble for 12 rounds.

In the end, McCline was not just good enough to beat Peter. He had his shot and when he failed to take advantage of it, Peter’s skills took over and dominated the rest of the fight.