By Ramon Rodriguez
In boxing, when a fighter comes out of a tough loss, it is common to see experts declare that fighter shot or proclaim that he's just a shell of his former self. Many times, these fighters have engaged in several brutal wars that have left them totally spent. It can't be denied that the passage of time can finally zap the last bit of the ultra-quick reflexes from an athlete who was once so dominant. So should poor performances against Corrie Sanders, Lamon Brewster (knockout losses) and DaVarryl Williamson (a narrow technical decision win) dismiss the twenty-nine year old Wladimir Klitschko as a force in the heavyweight division? According to his trainer, the legendary Emmanuel Steward, not a chance in the world.
“Everything will come out on September 24. I’ve been watching Wladimir very closely since the '96 Olympics and I understand his two losses. I still have never wavered in my belief that he’s the best talent in the heavyweight division. It’s something that we’re going to have a chance to prove. Time will prove it—you cannot win a fight by talking about it at press conferences or over the telephone,” said Steward in a calm manner. “I’ve had time to spend time training with most of the top heavyweights: Lennox Lewis, Oliver McCall, [Evander] Holyfield, Riddick Bowe and [Mike] Tyson—I’ve watched those guys and I think Wladimir has the most talent. In fact, even with Lennox, the one fighter I was watching very carefully and had more respect for was Wladimir.”
On September 24, Klitschko will look to revive his career with against the powerful Samuel Peter at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey for a #1 position in the ratings of the IBF and WBO. According to Steward, Klitschko sought a fight with Peter to restore his credibility in the heavyweight division. “I have no doubt in my mind that Wladimir Klitschko is the best
talent in the heavyweight division and I will stand by that as much as I got criticized with Lennox Lewis. Sam Peter seems to be the guy that everyone accepted as the new big guy on the block. By knocking out Peter that
will put Wladimir back in a respectful position without waiting another year or two by winning fights over lesser opponents.”
While some are already picking Peter to bulldoze Klitschko, Steward believes that with his back against the wall, Klitschko will redeem himself with a convincing victory. “No one believes in Wladimir anymore, it’s like he’s a sacrifice, it’s like he’s the little kid that’s going to get beat up by a big monster. We like that type of situation,” said Steward on Wednesday's conference call.
Klitschko certainly has seemed fragile in the past two years and with a tough fight against Peter, one might doubt Klitschko’s ability to deal with adversity. Yet, Steward points to Klitschko’s past achievements as proof
that he has taken on serious threats in the past and has emerged victorious. “Here’s a guy who was known as a patient fighter, winning fights with Jameel McCline, beating Monte Barrett and Chris Byrd. You got to remember, this man has beaten a lot of guys, had almost 50 professional fights—you don’t go through all those things without having a chin. He just ran across a
bad spot where he lost fights. Look what happened to [Arturo] Gatti; he lost like three, four fights in a row and came back. I’m standing behind him, developing
his talent, which is just phenomenal. It takes time to do what we’re going to do and I figure between the third and seventh round, Wladimir will knock out Sam Peter. I will have other people thinking like I’m thinking.”
But Samuel Peter has different plans in store for Klitschko and his camp. He refuses to stand around and be anyone’s stepping stone for redemption. Peter believes he is destined for greatness, a heavyweight championship and Klitschko just happens to be the next opponent he must defeat. “Everything is about timing. I’m not impressed by what any other person does. I do what I want to do. I really need this fight more than
anything in my life right now,” said Peter. “He’s got experience but I’ve got experience on my own. I sparred Klitschko once when I was 3-0; I helped him win against [Charles] Shufford. But you can’t count for past tense, we need the present.”
Peter’s manager, Ivaylo Gotzev, shares the same feeling. He understands that Peter’s upcoming bout will decide many things about how the world views his fighter. “We have a great challenge ahead of us: a 6 foot 6 fighting
machine by the name of Wladimir Klitschko. And we’re on a mission to take him down. That’s our only purpose in life right now. This is the moment of truth. Now it’s
time to take over the division,” said Gotzev.