Peter, Toney meet again; title shot at stake

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) – There was no consensus over who won the first fight between Samuel Peter and James Toney. And, not surprisingly, the two heavyweights are disagreeing again.

“I won the first one and I’ll teach him another lesson,” said Peter.

“They stole the first fight from me, but they won’t again,” said Toney.

Tonight, someone finally will be proven right.

Barely three months after Peter (27-1, 22 knockouts) took a split 12-round decision over Toney (69-5-3, 43 KOs) in their first fight, the pair meet again in a rematch ordered by a September vote of the WBC board of governors.

The winner of this elimination fight gets a mandatory shot at the WBC title against champion Oleg Maskaev, who claimed that belt with a surprising knockout of Hasim Rahman in August and defended it last month with a unanimous decision over Peter Okhello.

The 26-year-old Peter is 6-foot-1 and 249 pounds; the 38-year-old Toney is 5-foot-9, 234 pounds. Peter is the WBC’s No. 1 challenger for the heavyweight belt, one spot ahead of Toney.

“Everybody dreams of the green belt, that green belt with 160 countries embroidered on it,” said fight promoter Don King. “It’s something that everyone seeks. It goes with the biblical scripture. Knock and the door shall be opened. Seek and ye shall find. Ask and you shall be given. Know what I mean?”

Peter, a Nigerian who long has been considered one of the biggest punchers in the heavyweight ranks, still can’t quite figure out why this fight is necessary.

He won by convincing 116-111 margins on two judges’ cards on Sept. 2, yet trailed 115-112 on the third card.

Many ringside observers thought he won the fight, but others disagreed and Toney – a former IBF middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight champion – immediately cried foul.

“I’m not done with this punk,” Toney said after being handed his first loss since 1997.

Sure enough, the WBC agreed that Toney wasn’t done with Peter and quickly ordered the rematch, a decision that obviously didn’t sit well with the Nigerian.

Dino Duva, Peter’s promoter, said if there’s an upside of facing Toney again it’s that his fighter can show in a “more convincing way” that he’s the world’s best heavyweight.

“Samuel clearly beat James Toney on Sept. 2. We were very upset that he ordered a rematch,” Duva said.

“But you know what? He did us a favor. He did us a favor because it enabled and caused Sam Peter to train harder than he’s ever trained in his life before.”

The same apparently holds true for Toney.

He’s spent much of the last three months working with Tae Bo guru Billy Blanks, and even though his weight was actually one pound more than what he carried for the first fight, Toney is clearly slimmer now and says he’s in “150 percent better shape” compared to September.

“All everybody’s been doing is talking, what they’re going to do, how they’re going to do it. Like I said, I’m from Missouri. I’m from the Show-Me State,” said Toney, whose listed hometown is actually Ann Arbor, Mich. “I’ll be waiting. I’ll be there.”

Also on the card is a WBA super welterweight title bout between champion Jose Antonio Rivera and Travis Simms. Rivera, of Worcester, Mass., is 38-4-1 with 24 KOs. Simms, from Norwalk, Conn., is 24-0 with 18 KOs.

But the clear highlight is Peter-Toney II.

During Thursday’s news conference to hype the fight, Peter looked at Toney and shouted a few phrases in a language Toney couldn’t understand. No one from Peter’s camp provided a translation.

“On Saturday night,” said Peter’s manager, Ivaylo Gotzev, “the translation’s coming up.”

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