This coming Saturday, September 11th, Wladimir Klitschko and Sam Peter reprise their classic IBF eliminator match in 2005 that saw Klitschko hit the deck several times against the greatly feared, wide swinging, undefeated clubber who entered the bout at 24-0, 21 KOs.
Peter was on a horrific tear through the division back then and the general feeling in boxing was that Wlad had no heart for combat, and worse, was afflicted with a glass jaw that would quickly shatter.
It Seems like a distant, fuzzy era light years removed from the current heavyweight scene that has seen Wlad on a fine current run of dominance, going for his 10th straight title win and his 9th knockout. He not only holds the IBF title, but also the WBO, IBO, and more tellingly, the Ring belt, finally fulfilling the promise he held as a gangly 20 yr Olympic Gold Medalist, touted as the savior of the heavyweight division when he turned pro.
Wlad won that first confrontation with Peter, doing something that his critics said he couldn’t do, and that is overcoming adversity by regrouping his form and going about the task of picking Peter apart until the final bell ended the 12th round.
Peter disputed the decision, wanting a rematch, but the Fates had already set each out on separate paths, only to come back full circle after having run 5 years of boxing’s tortuous gauntlets.
Peter returns as a former WBC champion, having dropped his crown to Wlad’s older brother, Vitali, a couple of years ago. After a lethargic loss to Eddie Chambers in his next bout, Peter has won all 4 of his last bouts by knockout, and, just having turned 30 years of age a few days before the rematch, Peter is near the age of a traditional athletic peak.
Wlad will rightly be a big odds favorite due to his near invincible form since the 1st Peter fight in contrast to Peter’s pair of failures against Vitali and Chambers. Wlad is also 34 yrs old in his 58th career bout which is pushing the envelope for modern heavies.
Meanwhile, Peter has transformed himself since those losses, dropping some 25 lbs of weight from his ample frame as can be seen in this training photo.
Potentially he should be about as quick afoot or quicker than he was in the first bout, but the question arises as to what style he will utilize?
Since that first bout Peter has reformed his style from crude clubber into a boxer of sorts, but finally was outboxed by Vitali and Chambers. His “Wild Bull of the Pampas” style was effective the first time, putting Wlad in dire straits and needing every fiber of his being to right the sinking ship.
Of course by the bout’s end, it was Peter hanging on he was so spent. Peter was lucky to hear the final bell.
There is no way Peter can ever outbox Wlad in a million years. Wlad has won almost every round he has boxed in his professional career, so Peter has to outslug him, plain and simple. Can he do it? Peter may be in his 2nd “Reformation” as a fighter, but Wlad has steadily improved his game fight by fight, and more importantly, has earned a bit of swagger in his walk and talk that he lacked before. Whether he has gotten too far afield from his humble Ukrainian roots with the videos and brash talk remains to be seen. Understandably Wlad has been frustrated by dubious antics that saw top contenders David Haye and Alexander Povetkin fall out of scheduled matches that resulted in Wlad being placed in the position of having to search and sign replacement fighters for his defenses these past few years.
I guess it can be seen as a backhanded compliment that the top heavies would rather withdraw to endure the scorn of fans than risk the typical methodical beating followed by a knockout that Wlad lays down on his overmatched opponents.
I don’t recall this phenomena afflicting previous champions, though. Usually top contenders can’t get a title shot soon enough for their satisfaction, but it’s a new era and a softer way of doing business I guess if fighters can move to pick up a weak cheese belt.
Although Peter is a replacement fighter, he is a worthy opponent who has retained a ranking and is very hungry after going on a long diet. He may no longer be the fan favorite on a rampage through the division as he was in the first match, but he does provide the potential for some spectacle that Wlad’s defenses have lacked IF he can connect with a clean shot.
The first fight was one of the most dramatic heavyweight fights of the decade, so I plan on being glued to the rematch.