October 11th 2008, O2 Arena, Berlin, Germany
Vitali Klitschko sits in his dressing room, the trainer finishes taping up his hands and Vitali warms up on the focus pads.
A million thoughts run through a normal fighter’s mind at this time, let alone one under the amount of pressure of Vitali. No doubt every punch on the focus pad brings a different aspect of this fight to the Ukrainian’s mind.
A mother’s wish to see both her sons rule the world at the same time, a fighter’s dream to hold a belt along with his younger brother, the weight of a nation’s expectations and all the sportswriters salivating at the prospect of morning headline fodder regarding a ‘over the hill’ champ’s tragic return.
What was that?
A funeral precession honoring the final resting place of the man known to his fans in Germany as ‘Dr. Eisenfaust,’ or as the English speaking parts of the globe knew him, Dr. Ironfist?
Then, voices of past champions emerged from the bells.
Foreman, Frazier, Tyson, Holyfield, and Lewis. They all spurred on the WBC Champion Emeritus—was Vitali having a premonition before the fight?
The answer was no.
It was the returning king, red carpet welcome that the Ukrainian received, along with a video package of the past champs offering their encouragement. Samuel Peter, the actual WBC champion received a two minute highlight reel.
If an onlooker were to take the result from that alone, you would have Vitali winning comfortably and that’s what basically happened.
Vitali used his size and reach to nullify the Nigerian Nightmare, who, judging by his performance, might be more aptly titled Nigerian Daydream.
As a fighter, Peter’s strength lies in his looping overhand punches. His typical technique consists of taking a few steps forward and then letting his hands go. Under most circumstances, this method causes his opponents to either scramble out of the way or get hit and fall to the canvas.
However, this strategy generally works if the opponent’s height doesn’t exceed the average of 6’1" or 6’2".
A man of Vitali’s giant stature uncovered the fundamental weaknesses in Peter’s game, exposing him as a one-dimensional boxer. Peter even had to jump to jab Vitali’s face. Thus, that technique generates little power, and it showed.
From round four on, Peter fought square and showed little creativity. He was picked off round after round by Klitschko’s left-hook, straight-right combination, directly down the pipe. This all lead to the Nigerian Nightmare’s eventual retirement from the bout at the end of the eighth round.
So was it a clear dominant display on the part of Vitali?
The answer is again, no.
Klitschko looked winded from round four onward. His hands were down often and his form was sloppy due to his obvious fatigue. Maybe this fight was the best example of what people have been saying for years: The heavyweight division has been in a dire state.
Samuel Peter, along with Vitali’s brother Wladmir, were seen as two of the best the division had to offer. Vitali’s return set the scene as a champion versus a jobber, and it is obvious which role was Peter’s.
Questions of the future echoed throughout the arena after the victory, but Vitali was more interested in the present. Standing side by side with his brother, as they enjoyed their championship spoils.
Both men were now wearing their championships and thus securing their names in the history books as the first ever brothers to both hold gold simultaneously.
Maybe the competition aspect takes a deserved back seat tonight to the human story that we normally only ever see in the movies. A returning ex-champion, a story of two brothers, and a mother’s wish.
A story of Oscar material.