Five years later, Peter gets shot at redemption against Klitschko
Two years ago,
The end seemingly came four months later, when a flabby, out-of-shape Peter, fighting at a career-high 265 pounds, lost a majority decision to
At 28, Peter was through. Or so we thought. Top Rank, which hasn't been a player in the heavyweight division in recent years, believed it could revive Peter's career. So it signed Peter to a promotional contract and paired him with
"I have been with Sam now since last May," Sanchez said in a recent conference call. "The dedication has been the big difference I have seen in Sam. I have been able to keep him in the gym six or seven days a week. I think in the past he has allowed outside sources to distract him and he had a lack of commitment, but I think his time, to me, it has changed."
With Sanchez in his corner, Peter (34-3) has returned to his winning ways. The competition hasn't been stiff --
"Before, I rushed myself in everything I did," Peter said. "But now I don't rush. I take everything the way it comes."
And in a sport filled with second chances, Peter is going to get his. Five years ago, Peter was involved in one of the most exciting heavyweight fights in recent memory, a loss by unanimous decision to
On Saturday, Peter will get a shot at redemption when he challenges the younger Klitschko (54-3) for his WBO and IBF titles in Frankfurt, Germany (ESPN3.com, 5 p.m. ET). Not because he is worthy, mind you.
That leaves Peter, a fighter with a questionable résumé but a still prominent name. Peter's popularity stems from his power. Heavy-handed, he has proved capable of ending a fight with one punch, the kind of intrigue Team Klitschko is looking for to sell tickets and, hopefully, attract an American audience.
"Tickets sales in the weeks leading up to the fight have been really strong," said
Peter, of course, will be a heavy underdog this time around. Klitschko has barely lost a round, much less a fight, since his backyard brawl with Peter and has established himself as the top heavyweight of this era.
Peter, however, is not impressed. He sees a vulnerability in Klitschko's chin and doubts that five years has made it stronger.
"He has not improved [since '05]," Peter said. "He is still right, right, left, right. Jab, left hook. He doesn't improve. This time it will be different. ... There will not be a decision this time around. This time he will not get up from my left hook. I am ready and I am prepared and I will not need a referee or a judge."
Still, doubts about Peter remain. Boxing has seen fighters rejuvenate their careers on the backs of journeyman before.