Maskaev-Peter: Preview & Prediction

After Wladimir Klitschko’s dreadful looking victory over Sultan Ibragimov two weekends ago, stock in heavyweight title fights is at an all time low.  This perception could all change after this weekend when Samuel “Nigerian Nightmare” Peter (29-1, 22 KO’s) takes on Oleg “The Big O” Maskaev (35-5, 26 KO’s) at the Plaza de Toros in Cancun, Mexico this Saturday night. The Don King promoted card will mark the first time that a heavyweight title fight has taken place in Mexico.  It is of little wonder as to why DKP aptly named the promotion “History in Cancun”.  What could be considered even more impressive is the fact that this fight is actually taking place after countless stumbling blocks arose to delay what was originally scheduled to take place last October.  Injuries to Maskaev in addition to lawsuits filed by his handlers have resulted in harsh words and threats of litigation from all parties.  Maskaev won the vacant WBC portion of the heavyweight title with an upset stoppage of Hasim Rahman back in 2006.  Since then “The Big O” has defended the title only once in a lackluster mismatch in Maskaev’s native Russia.  Since then it has appeared that Maskaev’s handlers did everything they could to cash out their chips with the highest possible purse they could find.  Unfortunately that proverbial cash-out came at the massive hands of Vitali Klitchsko who despite being retired since 2005 was declared Champion Emeritus by the ever baffling WBC organization.  The stage was being set for a big fight between the two but when yet another injury forced Klitchsko to withdrawal from the bout Team Peter was more than willing to step in and fill in.  Scheduled for an October showdown with Peter at Madison Square Garden but the injury bug bit Maskaev and he was forced to withdrawal form the fight.   In Peter, the Nigerian slugger, this fight represents adding a stamp of legitimacy to his WBC “interim” heavyweight title.  After twice beating James Toney in WBC eliminators Peter was ready to take his shot at Maskaev’s belt but boxing’s sometimes unsavory politics reared its ugly head.  It appeared that Maskaev’s team was looking to avoid Peter in search of more lucrative endeavors.  After the proposed fight between Maskaev and Klitchsko fell through, Peter’s team was elated to finally get their opportunity.  However when Maskaev was stricken with a back injury in training for the fight Peter was left once again grasping at air.  In an attempt to save the date – and keep Peter active – Dino Duva and Don King arranged for Jameel McCline to step in and fill the slot.  It was a move that almost backfired as McCline nearly knocked out Peter in the early stages of the fight.  The usually iron-chinned Peter was knocked around the ring like a pinball before regaining his bearings to eek out a 12 round unanimous decision.  It seems at long last Peter will get his much coveted crack at Maskaev. Prediction: Peter by late round TKO.  While this may come as no surprise given the fact that most are predicting the same, I do believe that we are in store for a surprisingly good fight.  For all the fawning over Peter the fact still remains that he is a crude slugger at best.  It is a style that suits the squat muscular Nigerian just fine his punches carry a concussive thud upon impact.  Maskaev has enjoyed resurgence in his career but is notorious for having a weak chin.  And while that may play into Peter’s strengths let us not forget the fact that Maskaev is no slouch in the punching department either.  When you mix that with Maskaev’s heart and you have yourself a formidable foe.  Still at almost 40 years old, I simply cannot see Maskaev pulling off the upset.  Confidence: 75%.  If not for Peter’s dreadful performance against McCline I would have a higher confidence percentage.  Maskaev can beat Peter; I just don’t see it happening. My Allegiance: I’m going to have to go with Peter.  I feel that a victory for the Nigerian Nightmare would go further in recapturing interest in the heavyweight division.  At only 28 years old Peter is young enough to make a mark in the sport.  What I really like in Peter is his willingness to take on all challengers as he did when he stepped up to fight Wladimir Klitschko in 2005.  Besides a win for Peter puts him in a position to battle Wladimir in a rematch that could determine a recognized heavyweight champion if they were to engage in a rematch.  Photobucket

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.