By Scott Shaffer
Wladimir Klitschko's career as a heavyweight contender was hanging by a thread, but he managed to survive two fifth round knockdowns and another in the tenth to outbox Sam Peter in a battle of heavyweight contenders in Atlantic City in New Jersey. All three judges scored the bout 114-111 for Klitschko, who showed much-improved stamina from his disastrous collapse against Lamon Brewster. In the early rounds, Klitschko used his reach to keep Peter out of range, but as the third round ended, Peter landed a huge left reminiscient of the "smash" wielded by Razor Ruddock a decade ago. Klitschko was moved but took the punch well and rebounded with a very strong fourth round. Peter hurt Klitschko badly in the fifth and was credited with two knockdowns, although the first one came from a punch to the back of the head and the second there was no punch landed. Still, Klitschko appeared to be fading from Peter's punches and it was somewhat of a surprise to see Klitschko dominate the sixth round with a brilliant jab that kept Peter at bay. By the eighth, Klitschko was boxing with a confidence he had not displayed since his win over Jameel McCline back in 2002. Peter's eye was swollen, he looked tired and he was reduced to headhunting. After two more rounds of Klitschko dominance, the headhunting paid off when Peter knocked Kitschko down in the tenth. Klitschko won the elventh, and in a dramatic twelfth, Peter made one last charge and hurt Klitschko, but then tired badly, and Klitschko hurt him twice even though the Ukrainian was not in an aggressive mode. Although he did quite a bit of holding, Klitschko executed trainer Manny Steward's game plan to near perfection despite the three knockdowns. Boxingtalk will promote Klitschko to the #4 spot in its heavyweight ratings.