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Analyzing The Heavyweight Power Play

- By Scoop Malinowski

Let's take a close look at the intriguing Heavyweight fight within the fight, currently being battled between Team Peter, Team Klitschko, Team Maskaev and the WBC.

Team Peter has rejected the substantial offer and appear firmly disinterested in negotiating on the $5.5 million total figure to fight the winner of Maskaev-Klitschko later this year. Consider that Andrew Golota and DaVarryl Williamson earned approximately $100,000 each as challengers in IBF heavyweight title shots within the last three years..

Klitschko and Maskaev still seek to fight each other in a massive event in Moscow this spring and both have agreed to face Peter next.

The WBC promised Vitali Klitschko an automatic title shot in December 2005, to be granted if he ever opted to return to the ring. Samuel Peter won two WBC eliminators against James Toney in the last six months to earn a guaranteed WBC title shot by August 2007 - one year removed from when previous WBC mandatory challenger Maskaev KOed former champ Hasim Rahman.

Yes, Peter has earned his shot. Yes, he has paid his WBC sanctioning fees. And yes, he will eventually get his WBC title opportunity. But an extraordinary circumstance has arisen. Last month Vitali Klitschko suddenly opted to return to boxing. According to the WBC rules it is quite obvious this supercedes Peter's claim to the title shot. Because the WBC publicly promised Klitschko the automatic title shot if he chose to return, many months before Peter earned his mandatory challenger status.

Yes, it's unfortunate for Samuel Peter. But he will get his title shot eventually.

There is a suspicion that Don King is the major force behind Team Peter insisting on fighting Maskaev first. King, who recently bought a 50% stake into Peter's career, desperately wants to control the WBC title before Klitschko can get his fists on it.

But King, great promoter that he has been, has a history of making promises to heavyweight boxers and not delivering
(how's that for an understatement?). Take, among not a few, the example of Hasim Rahman who was sitting on top of the world after knocking out Lennox Lewis in South Africa. He was a promotional free agent, and undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, with a massive payday against Mike Tyson looming large on his horizon. However, there was one small detail being overlooked. Lennox Lewis had a rematch clause on Rahman.

Huge, eight-figure guaranteed contracts from HBO and Showtime were on Rahman's table, in the amounts of approximately $15,000,000.

But in stepped Don King, singing about even bigger paydays for safe title defenses against the likes of David Izon and Brian Nielsen. They would try to subjugate Lennox Lewis of his rematch clause. No problem, don't worry about it Rock. As legend has it (Cedric Kushner told me), Rahman accepted a briefcase that contained six figures of cold, hard cash. Rahman and King were on their way to China for an easy title defense - I even remember being at the press conference to announce the fight, it was at Tao in Manhattan.

But Lennox Lewis knew he had the documentation of the rematch clause. Lewis and his lawyers fought King & Rahman in court. Judge Miriam Cederbaum, as was expected, eventually did the right thing and ruled in favor of Lewis. She honored the promise of the contract. It was a major error by Rahman & King. Rahman ended up being forced to fight Lewis and got himself knocked out. And it was for A HELLUVA LOT LESS THAN $15,000,000. Consequently, Rahman, even after so many TV fights on HBO, eventually filed for bankruptcy within the last two years.

And it is more than probable that Rahman would not be anywhere near bankrupt had he not listened to King's overtures about big money fights in China and being able to avoid the rematch with Lennox Lewis.

Now Samuel Peter may be under a similarly unrealistic impression - that his team can win him a gigantic lawsuit settlement against the WBC which would force Oleg Maskaev to fight him first, before Vitali Klitschko gets his chance.

The WBC has already lost a massive lawsuit to former WBC light heavyweight champion Graciano Rocchigiani who was ruled by a judge to have been unfairly stripped of his title. Team Peter could be trying to intimidate the WBC with their threats of a lawsuit.

If the WBC were to surrender to the threats of Team Peter, and mandate Maskaev vs. Peter next, the Mexico-based sanctioning body could then be in an even more vulnerable position. As in checkmate. Because the WBC might then face an enormously dangerous lawsuit from Team Klitschko - which possesses the documentation of the WBC Champion Emeritus promise from December 2005.

The latest development is that Team Peter has been offered and, as of Monday, rejected a very reasonable package of benefits to wait until after Maskaev vs. Klitschko for a title shot.

Though Don King, Ivalyo Gotzev and Dino Duva may be not advising Peter to sign and take the GUARANTEED money, you can be pretty damn sure the unfortunate Hasim Rahman, who has listened to a fair share of empty promises and bad advices during his career, certainly would be.

Who would give Samuel Peter better counsel, who would have Samuel Peter's long term interests more at heart - Rahman? Or King?

Dare I mention the names Tim Witherspoon. Mike Tyson. Greg Page. Terry Norris. Chris Byrd. Muhammad Ali -after the Larry Holmes fight.
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