Samuel Peter: I’m going to KO Kubrat Pulev
By Eric Baldwin: Former WBC heavyweight champion Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter (36-5, 29 KOs) plans on knocking out 35-year-old Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev (23-1, 12 KOs) this Saturday night on December 3 to claim the vacant WBA Intercontinental Heavyweight title in their fight at the Arena Armee in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Pulev has been matched against the 36-year-old Peter rather than one of the top 15 contenders in the heavyweight division. The idea is that Pulev gets a win over a notable name from the past to keep in the hunt for a heavyweight title shot.
(Photo Credit: LAP Images)
Peter hasn’t done much in the heavyweight division in the last five years of his career, and he’s seen as a fighter that is past his best by many boxing fans. However, Peter’s punching power makes him a real threat to the 6’4 ½” Pulev in this fight. If Peter can get close enough to land some of his huge power shots, he could score a knockout. Pulev was knocked out two years ago by former IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, so there’s a chin problem that Peter could take advantage of.
‘’It’s great to be here,’’ said Peter. ‘’I’m in good shape and I’m ready to fight. The plan is simple for me. I’ve come here to knock Pulev out and to take the belt and my money back home to Las Vegas.’’
In looking at the pictures of Peter, he doesn’t look like he’s in the kind of shape he was in the past. We’ll have to see at the weigh-in on Friday, December 2 just how good of shape he’s in. Peter weighed 261 pounds for his last fight against Juan Carlos Salas (6-9) last October. That’s around 20 pounds above Peter’s best weigh in the low 240s during the prime of his career. It’s probably not realistic to assume that Peter can ever get back down to that weight at his age. Peter hasn’t fought in the 240s since his loss to Wladimir in their rematch in 2010.
Peter was stopped in the 10th round in that fight. Peter didn’t look nearly as motivated for that fight then he had in their first match against Wladimir in 2005. Peter also looked bad in losing to Robert Helenius by a 9th round knockout in April 2011. That’s a fighter that Peter would have likely destroyed back in 2005. Since Peter’s loss to Helenius, he’s won his last two fights in stopping Ron Aubrey and Juan Carlos Salas.
Peter’s weight for the Aubrey fight was 291lbs. That’s a huge amount of weight for the 6’2” Peter. For his most recent fight against Salas, Peter dropped down to 261lbs. That’s a better weight for Peter, but still 18lbs above the weight he fought Wladimir at in their first fight in 2005. Peter was out of boxing for 3 ½ years after his loss to Helenius in 2011.
Peter has only fought twice since making his comeback in September 2014. Peter didn’t fight at all in 2015, and only once in 2016 in beating the journeyman Salas. Peter’s inactivity is worrisome. How can Peter beat a top fighter like Pulev when he’s only had two fights in the last five years of his career? Pulev’s management is picking Peter at a good time with him still very rusty from inactivity. Two fights in just five years is not the ideal activity level for someone facing a guy like Pulev. There are a lot of flaws in Pulev’s game, but it’s not likely that Peter is going to be sharp enough to exploit them due to his inactivity.
‘’This time everything is different for me,’’ Pulev said. ‘’Because this is my homeland, my hometown, the city I was born, and the city I grew up in. This is my nation, these are my people, and we share the same blood. It’s a huge honor for me to have the chance to make this country proud and my countrymen happy with a great victory. ‘I would encourage my brother to train hard and follow his dreams,’’ he said. ‘’He is a good fighter and together we will make Saturday a great night for Bulgaria.’’
It doesn’t matter where the Pulev vs. Peter fight takes place. If Pulev is the better fighter, he’ll win. If Peter lands one of his big shots, Pulev is going to be in trouble in this fight. Pulev is a good fighter, but he’s not in the same level as the top guys like Anthony Joshua, Luis Ortiz, Wladimir Klitschko, Deontay Wilder and David Haye. There’s probably a handful of other heavyweights that would likely beat Pulev as well like Dillian Whyte, Bermane Stiverne, Alexander Povetkin, Bryant Jennings, Joseph Parker, Andy Ruiz Jr., Artur Szpilka, Johann Duhaupas, David Price, Hughie Fury, Jarrell Miller, Eric Molina, Lucas Browne and Ruslan Chagaev. Pulev is still a good heavyweight though. He’s just not top 10 level heavyweight in this writer’s view.
The heavyweight divisions are watered down, and that makes it possible for guys like Pulev to be ranked highly despite him not having beaten anyone of note recently. Pulev did beat fringe level heavyweight Dereck Chisora in his last fight in winning a 12 round split decision last May in 2016 to win the vacant European Boxing Union heavyweight title. It wasn’t surprising news that Pulev was able to beat Chisora though, because it’s already been established many times over that Chisora is vulnerable against the taller heavyweights in the division.
Also on the card is Pulev’s brother Tervel Pulev fighting Tomislav Rudan. Tervel captured a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics.