Wed, Oct 08, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Peter in dramatic frenzy over Klitschko bout

AP , BERLIN

Samuel Peter angrily ripped the WBC belt from Vitali Klitschko’s hands and stormed off the stage on Monday at a news conference to promote their heavyweight title fight.

The two fighters — both WBC champions — were engaged in the routine pre-fight stare-down with both holding the belt, when Peter, urged on by trainer Stacy McKinley, angrily snatched it from Klitschko’s grasp.

Klitschko looked surprised and then bemused by Peter’s actions ahead of Saturday’s bout at the O2 World Arena.

“What happens here is a show,” Klitschko said. “The real fight is in the ring.”

Peter was reportedly angry that the conference was conducted mostly in German — which Klitschko, a Ukrainian, speaks fluently — and responded by answering the few English questions posed to him in his native Nigerian tongue.

Peter’s American promoter, Dino Duva, didn’t hide his displeasure about being in Europe.

“I’m a little upset that everyone is speaking in German,” Duva said. “I didn’t want to fight in Germany. But [German broadcaster] RTL paid the most money and that’s why we’re here — I make no bones about it.”

The 37-year-old Klitschko (35-2, 34 KOs) has been out of the ring since an eighth-round win over Danny Williams on Dec. 11, 2004. He lost the WBC belt in 2005 after withdrawing from a title bout because of a torn right knee ligament.

The WBC later named him “champion emeritus.” But Klitschko, a powerful but injury-prone puncher, said he’s ready to reclaim the title outright and quell any doubts about his age and health.

“I know people thought I would get injured in training,” Klitschko said. “No. I’m healthy. I’m ready to fight.”

The 27-year-old Peter (30-1, 23 KOs) took the WBC interim title by easily beating Jameel McCline on points in September last year. During that bout, McCline dropped Peter to the canvas with a sharp uppercut in the second round.

“All the great heavyweight fighters have been knocked down,” McKinley said. “What’s important is that you get up again.”

Earlier this year, Peter took care of Oleg Maskaev with a devastating sixth-round knockout in a Cancun bullfighting ring, a fight that strengthened his grip on the WBC belt.

After that victory, Peter called for — but didn’t receive — a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali’s younger brother and holder of the IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight belts. Wladimir Klitschko dealt Peter his only loss.

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