The Nightmare Rules!

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Nobody can tell if Samuel Peter’s parents peered into a crystal ball before they named him Okon (nightmare). For the boxer known worldwide as the ‘Nigerian nightmare’ beat the living daylights out of Oleg Maeskaev, former World Boxing Association, WBC champion, in the wee hours of Sunday, 9 March at the Plaza de Toros, Cancun, Mexico.

Standing at 1.88metres with a record of 30 wins, 23 by TKO, and a loss, Peter effectively enforced the dread that Maeskaev and other boxers have had of him in their scheduled 12-round fight with a flurry of 13 punches that put Maeskaev’s career to sleep in round six. Peter had an opportunity to fight Maeskaev for the WBC title, after brushing aside earlier allegations by his challenger, James Toney that their match of September 2, 2006 was mishandled by match officials. However, the match between Peter and Maeskaev, September 22 could not take place because Maeskaev pulled out on account of a back injury. But the other main contenders, Vitali Klitschko and Jameel McCline also did not fight because Klitschko also suffered a back injury during training. This left the ring open for Peter and McCline, who had the controversy of the use of illegal substances in 2006 and 2006, trailing at his heels. On October 6, precisely from 10pm, at the Madison Square Garden, McCline knocked Peter down three times. But the indomitable nightmare came back eventually to win that fight with a unanimous decision, therefore retaining his title of WBC Interim Heavyweight Champion of the World. The Maeskaev fight of Cancun, Mexico was the formality that has now established Peter, the Okon, as the very first African to win the coveted WBC title and stamp fear in the hearts of contenders for the IBF and WBO titles.

Said to be born on September 6, 1980, the nightmare began his boxing career as an 11-year old that had earlier preferred football. He went on to win the amateur heavyweight championship and the African Zone 3 heavyweight championship. He represented Nigeria at the 2000 Sydney, Australia Olympics but lost to Italian Paolo Vidoz by decision in the quarter finals in his category. But it was Peter who won that fight because, even though he lost, he caught the eye of Ivalio Gotzev and Andy Anderson, who signed with Peter as his manager and coach respectively. Peter is now promoted by Duva Boxing and before the fight proper, Don King, boxing impresario had boasted that Peter would make mincemeat of the Ukrainian, Maeskaev.

In a post-match interview, Peter said that he was ready for the Klitschko brothers, Vladimir and Vitalo, who hold the WBO and IBF titles but have vowed not to fight each other. He said he owed his victory to Godswill Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State governor, who sponsored his training regimen. Obisia Nwakpa, head coach of Nigeria Amateur boxing association, NABA, said that Peter’s victory over Maeskaev ‘was a clear demonstration to show that Nigeria boxers, both amateur and professional were capable of ruling the world of boxing, if given the necessary support’’. According to Nwakpa, Peter’s victory is a challenge for Nigeria to prepare for Namibia in the 2nd Africa Beijing Olympic qualifier.

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