Saturday, September 13, 2008

Samuel Peter is a Citizen of the World

Soon after he won the WBC heavyweight belt from Russia's Oleg Maskaev in a Mexican bull ring, Samuel Peter returned to his native Nigeria to celebrate with his people.

Several years ago, before his untimely death at the hands of his axe-wielding nephew, former WBC heavyweight champion Trevor Berbick found himself inside a cramped Montreal courtroom for a deportation hearing. The Canadians wanted to ship Berbick back to his native Jamaica and the disinterested fighter, never one for such formalities, slept through much of the proceedings which took several days to sort themselves out.

However, at one point, when the judge asked Berbick what country he considered himself a citizen of, Berbick awoke from his slumber, stood up soldier straight, looked at the judge and blurted out: "I am a citizen of the world!" And then he promptly sat down, dropped his head into his folded arms - and resumed his nap. A few days later Berbick was promptly deported.

So why do I bring this up? Well, like Berbick, current WBC heavyweight titlist Samuel Peter, who is preparing in the thick woods of southern Germany to face challenger Vitali Klitschko on October 11th in Berlin, reminds me a bit of Berbick in the fact that he's comfortable in all corners of the world and he's never one to mince words.

Peter, of course, was born 28 years ago in Nigeria, hence his nickname, the 'Nigerian Nightmare'. He is a bull of a man who stands a shade over six feet tall and weighs 250 pounds. He has forearms like bowling pins and a neck like a Brahma bull. Peter fought his first pro fight in the far, unlikely outpost of Kazakhstan before eventually setting up shop in Las Vegas. Over the course of his professional boxing career he has fought from Chile to Connecticut to Mexico and now he's getting ready to defend his heavyweight title for the first time in Germany.

Vitali Klitshcko, the elder of the fighting Klitschko brothers, is returning from nearly four years in retirement in an effort to reclaim a portion of the heavyweight championship. His brother Wladimir holds the IBF and WBO titles.

Like Berbick, Peter doesn't think about questions for very long before he fires off a rapid-fire answer with his staccato tongue and bright white smile. He speaks with a thick African accent, has an expressive face and can go from happy and cheery to dark and sullen with a snap of the fingers.

So when asked what he thought was going to happen when he eventually meets up with Klitschko, who stands an imposing 6'7" tall and scales in the vicinity of 250 pounds, Peter was quick with his response.

"I'm sure it's not going to go past six rounds, trust me," said Peter, who when he wears his native garb, has the look of an old time African King.

"I will never lose the title in Germany. I will bring it back to the United States and then I'll bring it back to Africa. I will never leave it over there, in Germany," he declares. "I will not leave it to judges or the referee to judge this fight."

Peter is never short on confidence and with the Klitschko fight only 28 days away he wasn't hesitant to put forth his thoughts, either.

"I expect a knockout and to defend my title, the WBC heavyweight championship of the world," said a proud Peter. "But I don't take anything away from him, he's a very good boxer."

Peter, pictued above with promoter Don King, is a mountain of a man who is thickly built and powerful. His reputation is that of a clubbing puncher.

Peter said he had been training in Africa under the watchful eye of Stacy McKinley for several months before he moved his training camp to Las Vegas and then Germany earlier this month. He also claims he's not worried about the fight going to a decision in Germany, which is the adopted home base of the Klitschko brothers who hail from the Ukraine.

"You have to knock people out but it's not easy to knock people out, it's not every fighter you can knockout, but this fight I'm going to knock him out," barks Peter. "I'm going to prove to you all that I can knock him out. It's not going to be a tough fight. He's a bum, he's never had to fight somebody like me, never."

Peter throws stones at Klitschko's claim of being a former two-time heavyweight champion of the world, at least of the WBO and WBC variety. "Who did he ever beat?" asks a skeptical Peter. "I've never ducked anybody. I've had 31 fights and I've never ducked anyone."

Peter has hired outspoken trainer Stacy McKinley who may best be known for working with another heavyweight champion and big puncher - Mike Tyson.

McKinley claims that Peter is pure African gold, and that when 'Big Sam' steps through the ropes and into the Berlin ring against Klitschko that what he has seen in his charge will be revealed to the world.

"We trained in Africa for two months and altogether we've been training about five months for this fight," said McKinley. "There will be no more long lay-offs. We're doing things the old fashioned way."

McKinley has so much confidence in Peter that he says, "I would like to see Samuel Peter fight both of them Klitschko boys in the same night! I'd like to see Sam fight Vitali for the first six rounds and he'd get him out of there in about four. Then they could throw that other boy in there (meaning Wladimir). We could then take care of all of this Klitschko mess and put all of this stuff away. All of their talk don't mean nothing. Samuel is going to knock this boy out."

Peter journeyed to Cancun, Mexico to lift the WBC title from Russia's Oleg Maskaev. Maskaev was stopped in six rounds.

Peter, who will carry a record of 30-1 (23)KO's into the ring against Vitali, says that he is looking forward to getting the oft-injured Klitschko into the ring so he can beat him and then get a rematch with his younger brother, IBF and WBO heavyweight titlist Wladimir who holds a close decision win over him from 2005.

"I just want to show everyone that I'm the true heavyweight champion of the world," says Peter. "I am going to swallow him in Berlin."

Spoken like a true citizen of the world.

September 2008

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