Heavyweights returning to Reno

RENO -- There is a rich history when it comes to the heavyweight division and the Fourth of July weekend in Reno.

After world heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries retired undefeated earlier in the year, Marvin Hart stopped light heavyweight champion Jack Root in 12 rounds for the vacated title on July 3, 1905.

Jeffries, labeled another "Great White Hope," was lured out of retirement five years later and on July 4, 1910, was hammered into submission in the 15th round of his contest with defending champion Jack Johnson.

It is doubtful that Saturday's 12-round heavyweight clash between Samuel "The Nigerian Nightmare" Peter and Taurus "The Bull" Sykes will carry the significance of Johnson-Jeffries or Hart-Root, but it will have a measure of historical significance nonetheless.

Peter-Sykes, which will be televised on Showtime Championship Boxing on tape delay at 9 p.m., will headline the inaugural boxing show at the recently constructed Reno Events Center.

Although the world heavyweight championship will not be on the line, there will be three belts at stake - the North American Boxing Federation (NABF), United States Boxing Association (USBA) and North American Boxing Association (NABA) titles.

More important the belts, however, is the opportunities that will open up to the winner. With Vitali Klitschko (WBC), Chris Byrd (IBF), John Ruiz (WBA) and Lamon Brewster (WBO) all holding a slice of the heavyweight championship pie, Peter or Sykes will find himself near the front of the line with a victory.

The 24-year-old Peter, 23-0 (20), Las Vegas via Akwaibom, Nigeria, is also rated No. 4 by the WBC and No. 5 by the IBF and WBO. THE RING magazine, which doesn't recognize the various sanctioning bodies, lists Vitali Klitschko as the world heavyweight champion and rates Peter No. 9.

"Samuel is coming to do history," said Peter's trainer, Andy "Pops" Anderson. "He beats people up and knocks them out."

Peter, a former member of the Nigerian Olympic team, has indeed displayed big power as a professional. He opened up his career with seven consecutive knockouts, including six in the first round.

Peter previously fought in Reno on March 7, 2003, destroying Dale Crowe in four rounds and later scored one of the most devastating knockouts in Showtime history, with a frightening one-punch kayo of Jeremy Williams in the second round of their Dec. 4, 2004, encounter.

If there is a knock on Peter, however, it's that he has slow footwork and is a one-dimensional slugger, something the 30-year-old Sykes, a slippery boxer from Brooklyn said he is looking to exploit.

"I'm going to expose him - pull his covers off," said Sykes, 23-1-1 (6). "I have movement, handspeed and I counter (punch). I'm not going to get hit. I'm just going to dominate and make it as exciting as I can."

"Fists and Fireworks," as the event is being billed, will feature seven bouts, including a six-round welterweight contest between Carson City's Simon Ruvalcaba, 3-6-2, and Brooklyn's Ray Biggs Jr., 2-0, with 2 knockouts.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. An eight-round welterweight contest between Oscar Diaz, 20-1 (11), San Antonio, and Arturo Urena, Mozatlan, Mexico, will start the show at 5, with Peter-Sykes scheduled to begin at 6.

For a more in-depth look at the card, log onto www.fightnews.com.


What: Seven-bout professional boxing card.

Where: Reno Events Center

When: Doors open Saturday at 4:30 p.m., first bout begins 5 p.m.

TV: Showtime Championship Boxing, tape-delayed broadcast begins 9 p.m.

Ticket info: $30, $55, $75, $100 and $200. Available at the door, by calling Ticketmaster at (775) 787-8497, or by logging onto [ http://www.ticketmaster.com ]www.ticketmaster.com

Bouts: Samuel Peter, Nigeria, 23-0 (20 knockouts) vs. Taurus Sykes, Brooklyn, N.Y., 23-1-1 (6), for the NABF, USBA and NABA heavyweight titles, 12 rounds.

Oscar Diaz, San Antonio, 20-1 (11), vs. Arturo Urena, Mazatlan, Mexico, 22-10-1 (18), eight rounds, welterweights.

Elena Reid, 16-2-5 (5), Las Vegas, vs. Stephanie Dobbs, Moore, Okla., 17-17-2 (9), six rounds, junior featherweights.

Christian Cruz, Sacramento, 10-2-1 (8), vs. Edmund O'Neal, Lawton, Okla., 9-7-2 (1), six rounds, super middleweights.

Nonito Donaire, San Leandro, Calif./Philippines, 10-1 (7), vs. Larry Olvera, San Pedro, Calif., 5-4-1 (4), six rounds, bantamweights.

Michael Marrone, Vero Beach, Fla., 9-0 (8), vs. Forrest Neal, Detroit, 16-6 (12), six rounds, heavyweights.

Simon Ruvalcaba, Carson City, 3-6-2, vs. Ray Biggs Jr., Brooklyn, 2-0 (2), six rounds, welterweights.


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