Garden Party: ‘Big Time’ Challenges ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ For WBC ‘Interim’ Title

By Francis Walker
Updated: October 5, 2007

(L-R)Jameel McCline, Don King and Samuel Peter.

(L-R)Jameel McCline, Don King and Samuel Peter.

NEW YORK — Injuries to former heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko and current WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev couldn’t have occurred at a better time for Jameel “Big Time” McCline (38-7-3, 23 KOs).

The 6-foot-6, 270-pound, 37 year-old was recently positioned as the leading contender to challenge newly named WBC interim heavyweight champion Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter (28-1, 22 KOs).

Peter vs. McCline, promoted by Don King Productions, in association with Duva Boxing, will be televised exclusively on Showtime Championship Boxing Saturday night beginning at 10 pm ET from Madison Square Garden in New York City.

“It’s been a wonderful turn of events,” McCline said during a recent conference call. “I’m very happy. This is what I’m in the business for. This is my 12fth year in the business, my fourth world title fight. I was supposed to fight Vitali Klitschko. Then I was put on the Peter-Maskaev undercard against DaVarryl Williamson. Then I was placed in the main event after Maskaev injured his back.”

McCline was referring to the recent changes to previously scheduled heavyweight fights. His cancelled fight with Klitschko, who injured himself in training camp, was originally scheduled for September 29, in Germany.

Peter, 27, Nigeria, was originally scheduled to challenge Maskaev for the WBC title. However, after Maskaev, the current WBC heavyweight champion, pulled out of a mandatory defense against Peter, WBC Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve McCline a suitable title challenger after Peter was bumped up to “interim” championship status.

“I’m just happy to be the new heavyweight champion of the world,” Peter said. “I’m a fighter. Right now we are taking over.”

Although McCline has failed in his previous three attempts to win a heavyweight championship, he is very confident that he will walkout of the Garden as the new WBC interim heavyweight champion.

“I’m going to win the fight,” McCline said. “”I’m a great fighter. I walk into every fight in every arena expecting to win.”

McCline is approaching his fourth opportunity to win a world championship — his second this year. In January, McCline was very competitive in his bout with Nikolai Valuev for the WBA heavyweight title. But in the third round, McCline’s knee popped out of its socket while throwing a punch. The bout ruled a TKO win for Valuev.

“The patella tendon holds the top of the leg to the bottom,” McCline said. “Without it, [the leg] just won’t work. The knee was not even one bit of an issue during training. It’s 100%.”

McCline he has been training to fight for the last 14 weeks and is ready to bang with Peter.

“Ill be very aggressive and I will fight my game plan,” McCline said. “I will win this fight.”

In McCline’s previous two world title attempts were unsuccessful bids against current IBF heavyweight champion Wladmir Klitschko (TKO by 10) title in 2002 and Chris Byrd (L 12) for the IBF title in 2004 at the Garden.

While Peter isn’t as illusive as Byrd and does not have the size and reach advantage of a Klitschko, he does pack plenty of power in his 6-feet-2, 248-pound body. Peter is a very strong fighter and will be very aggressive in looking for a knockout victory against McCline.

Should Peter win, he is still obligated to face Maskaev to unify the WBC heavyweight title. If Maskaev is in no condition to fight Peter within the allocated time of 90 days following Peter-McCline then Peter would be elevated WBC champion status.

Former Heavyweight Title Challengers Round-Out Garden Undercard

In other bouts that will round-out the Garden event, former title challengers DaVarryl Williamson, Kali Meehan, Andrew Golota, and Tyson-Conquerer Kevin McBride will fight each other on the undercard.

Williamson vs. Meehan

Williamson (24-4, 20 KOs) will face former world title challenger Meehan (32-3, 26 KOs) in a 10-round heavyweight bout. This will be Williamson’s third bout at the Garden where he has a pair of victories against Oliver McCall (W 10) in 2004 and Derrick Jefferson (TKO 2) in 2005.

Williamson, 39, from Washington, D.C., once dropped current IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko on the canvas before losing a technical decision after a clash of heads in the fifth round in 2004. Williamson also lost a 12-round decision to Chris Byrd for the IBF heavyweight title in 2005.

Not bad for a fighter who was considered damaged goods following a one-round KO loss to Joe Mesi in 2003.

Meehan, 37, from South Whales, Australia, will be fighting at the Garden for the second time in his career. In 2004, Meehan was TKO’d in the fourth round by former WBC/IBF heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman. Meehan also lost a 12-round spilt decision to Lamon Brewster for the WBO heavyweight title that same year.

Meehan is currently riding a three-bout win streak, but hasn’t fought since November 2006.

Golota vs. McBride

Madison Square Garden has been the site of Golota’s most compelling performances during his professional career. Golota, (39-6-1, 32 KOs), 39, from Poland, will be fighting at the Garden for the fourth time during his 15-year career.

In July 1996, Golota was dominant during a one-sided boxing exhibition against former undisputed world heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe. However, Golota kept hitting Bowe below the belt and was disqualified in the seventh round.

In Golota’s previous two bouts at the Garden in 2004, he boxed extremely well during a 12-round draw with Chris Byrd for the IBF belt and twice floored John Ruiz during a 12-round decision loss.

Golota will be fighting the last person to defeat Mike Tyson in McBride, (34-5-1, 29 KOs), 34, from Ireland. Tyson was ahead on two of the three judges’ scorecards 57-55 before he quit on his stool after the fifth round.

Golota himself fought Tyson in October 2000. Golota was floored in the first round and ended-up losing on a TKO in the second round after fought his corner men in an attempt to walk out of the bout. The result was changed to a no-contest after Tyson tested positive for marijuana.

Golota has had a pretty good boxing career. He challenged Lennox Lewis (KO by 1) for the WBC heavyweight title more than one decade ago. Golota is one of He defeated fought former world heavyweight champions Tim Witherspoon (W 10) and Lamon Brewster (KO by1), and cruiserweight champion Orlin Norris (W 10).

Golota is one of three fighters to have fought Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, and Riddick Bowe at least three times combined — Evander Holyfield and Tyrell Biggs.

Santos & Rivera Collide

Daniel Santos (30-3-1, 21 KOs) will meet Jose Antonio Rivera (38-5-1, 24 KOs) in a 12-round middleweight bout. Santos, 29, from Puerto Rico, is a former WBO welterweight and junior middleweight champion.

He has fought Antonio Margarito twice and is hoping to earn another world title fight. He’ll have to first surpass the challenge of former WBA 154-pound champion Jose Antonio Rivera.

Rivera, 36, from Connecticut, is a former 147-pound fighter and is coming off a devastating loss to Travis Simms (TKO by 9) in January. Rivera has lost two of his last three fights, both against southpaws including Luis Collazo (L 12) in 2005.

To make things worse, Rivera will be fighting Santos a taller southpaw at 5-foot-11.