The Peter Principle wins out

Sometimes it's more fun being wrong than it is being right.

Case in point was Saturday's WBC heavyweight title-elimination match between Samuel Peter and James Toney.

After watching Peter get a gift decision over Toney in September, I thought Toney would improve his conditioning for the rematch and exploit the somewhat plodding and robotic style of the one-dimensional Nigerian.

What I witnessed instead was a motivated Peter come in at 249 pounds - eight pounds less than he weighed in the first match - and use a surprisingly effective left jab and superior conditioning to score a knockdown and a one-sided unanimous decision.

In improving to 28-1 with 22 knockouts, Peter has positioned himself for a possible April matchup with WBC beltholder Oleg Maskaev. More important, Peter's newly found commitment leaves one believing that he could not only avenge his defeat to IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko, but could possibly claim the undisputed championship if the various sanctioning bodies would agree to cooperate.

It's a given that Peter would beat muscle-bound WBO titlist Shannon Briggs. The only question mark is whether Peter could bring down limited behemoth Nicolay Valuev, the WBA titlist.

At 7-foot, 330-pounds, Valuev is nearly a full foot taller and 80 pounds heavier than Peter.

Weight is relative here. Rather than gain weight for a fight with Valuev - or anyone else for that matter - what if Peter were to lose, say, another 10 pounds?

I asked this question to his promoter, Lou Duva, on Monday, and he agreed that further weight loss would only serve to improve Peter even more in terms of conditioning and its ancillary benefits.

By being lighter and in better condition, the already powerful Peter could increase his punch count - as he did against Toney - and his ability to throw combinations, which would increase his chances of landing a follow-up punch with some velocity on it. As the saying goes, it's the punch a fighter doesn't see coming that knocks him out.

Cutting some more weight would also make Peter lighter on his feet, which would enable him to pivot and use angles to land his brain-rattling shots. It would also serve to make him a more elusive target.

There are only two questions I have regarding Peter's ability to unify the division: 1) Can he remain motivated consistently? 2) Will the Alphabet Boys allow the requisite unification matches?

I have no insight on Peter's motivation, but I can't count it out considering how much he improved for Toney.

In last week's column, I wrote that I didn't believe the sanctioning bodies - whom I believe to be under promoter Don King's thumb - would allow a unification to happen.

But as I underestimated Peter, perhaps I've underestimated King's motivation in seeing a unified heavyweight champion.

I realized this when I saw King - who has a piece of Toney - trying to get as close to Peter as a player's lips to a tuba.

It was classic King, who stepped over his fallen champion Joe Frazier to get at George Foreman and who stepped over a fallen Foreman to get next to Muhammad Ali.

I asked Duva, who's had Peter since early in his career, if King had taken over and he said no, he hadn't. When I asked if he needed King in the picture to get his fighter the title shot with Maskaev, he said yes.

Under ordinary WBC rules, the organization usually will consider a unification match - Maskaev-Klitschko in this case - before a mandatory defense if an exception is requested.

Since King doesn't have a piece of Klitschko (he does own Klitschko's next opponent, Ray Austin), Peter-Maskaev would make more financial sense to The Don.

I have no tangible proof that King owns the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO, but my bet is on the WBC ruling in favor of King and denying Maskaev his shot at unifying with Klitschko.

There was once a man who owned the middleweight division and got Bernard Hopkins, Felix Trinidad, William Joppy and Keith Holmes all together to unify.

His name was Don King. And if he wants it badly enough, the heavyweight division will be his. That will be proof enough of the power he wields over the Alphabet Boys - and while it's not a good thing legally or ethically, it will be a good thing for boxing fans who want one real heavyweight champion.


Samuel Peter was not the only heavyweight making a move over the weekend.

Reno's "Koncrete" Kelvin Davis knocked down "Wreckless" Willie Chapman three times in the first two rounds and went on to win an eight-round unanimous decision Friday at The Orleans, in Las Vegas.

The 38-year-old, 222-pound Chapman replaced Davis' original opponent, Friday Ahunanya, who pulled out a week before the fight.

"He was trying to survive, not win," Kelvin's brother/trainer/manager Kelly said of Chapman. "He had a lot of heart and a good chin. He took some mean (expletive deleted)."

Although Chapman, of Ogden, Utah, has a record of 20-28-3 (6), the numbers lie. Chapman stopped former heavyweight title challenger DaVarryl Williamson in four rounds in 2000 and with a single overhand right KO'd 6-foot-7 prospect T.J. Wilson in 2003 at Caesars Tahoe. Wilson was 9-0 coming in and 9 inches taller than Chapman.

With the win, the 28-year-old Davis, who came into the fight at 207, improved to 24-4-2 (17), and is expecting to fight at The Orleans again on Feb. 14 against an opponent to be named.

"I give him a B," Kelly said of Kelvin's performance. "He needed to throw more jabs. He did quite a bit of bodywork. He hurt (Chapman) with a few body shots. The only thing wrong was he didn't throw the jab enough. He got away from it."

And another thing the 5-foot-7 Davis has apparently gotten away from is the cruiserweight division. Davis became the first Northern Nevadan to win a world championship when he stopped Ezra Sellers in eight rounds to win the IBF cruiserweight title on May 1, 2004.

He was subsequently stripped of his belt following a dispute with promoter Don King, who wouldn't allow him to defend his belt without a long-term contract.

Kelly Davis said, "Never again," when asked if his brother would consider a return to the division for a big fight.

Davis and King split recently and Davis now has a deal with Crown Promotions to fight at The Orleans 10 times a year. He has now fought four times in six months after having only two bouts in 16 months for King.

"He's able to get in a rhythm," Kelly said of his brother's activity. "A guy knows where he stands (when he fights frequently). He's more comfortable. His vision is there. He's looking the same in his last five (actually four) fights and that's what you want."

Davis would have had another fight under his belt in September, but his opponent, Ernest Mateen, left the arena before the fight, with his hand wraps on and still dressed in his boxing trunks and robe.

Kelly Davis said Kelvin suffered a cut over his right eye during a clash of heads with Chapman, but that it didn't require stitches.

"We'll fight anyone, anytime and anyplace," Kelly said.

With that philosophy, there's no surer way to move up the heavyweight ranks.


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