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HBO coming back with yet another heavyweight title fight

We're going to do dual analysis to the lead-up of this weekend's HBO v. Showtime head-to-head, and if you glance over at the left sidebar, you might already guess what I'm going to be watching live.

This Saturday night, the long-awaited fight between WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev (34-5, 26 KO) and interim titleholder Samuel Peter (29-1, 22 KO), live from Cancun, Mexico -- the first ever major heavyweight title fight that will take place in Mexico.

It's something of a big deal. On paper, you could expect fireworks. But after the glorious turd that Klitschko and Ibragimov laid on February 23, I expect nothing now. I expect absolutely zilch from any heavyweight fight. Why prop myself up on expectations when chances are high I'll be let down?

But let's briefly try to escape into what could potentially happen.

Peter is arguably the division's biggest puncher, or is at least regarded as such. Maskaev is a tough, durable heavy, but he's been knocked out five times. Corey Sanders (not the Wlad conqueror), Lance Whitaker, Kirk Johnson, David Tua and Oliver McCall have all stopped Maskaev. Three of those came early in the fight -- McCall in the first, Johnson in the fourth, Whitaker in the second. Tua took Maskaev out in the 11th round, and Sanders stopped him in the eighth.

Peter has the thunder to end any fight early. But when's the last time he did so? That would be April 28, 2006, against Julius Long. In fact, who has Peter ever knocked out? Yeah, he put Wlad down three times, but he lost the fight. There are a few solid names on Peter's KO sheet, but nobody big. He's gone 12 rounds his last three fights, twice with old, inflated James Toney, and last time out against late sub Jameel McCline, who huffed and puffed his way through most of a rugged, butt ugly fight -- and beat the piss out of Peter in the process.

If McCline can hurt Peter, so can Maskaev. For a while it's been assumed that Maskaev will lose to Peter. I am not so sure about that. Maskaev is a talented boxer, far better fundamentally than Peter, and he's no feather-fisted puncher. He generally weighs in the neighborhood of 240 pounds for his fights, and he's 6'3". This isn't a small heavyweight we're talking about.

But the whole fight is so overdue that I can't help but have the attitude of, "Jesus Christ, FINALLY," rather than any real sense of anticipation. Maskaev has held the belt hostage since beating Hasim Rahman in August of 2006, defending one time since then (12/06, beating Peter Okhello, a joke of a challenger).

In that same timeframe, Peter has won two eliminator bouts and an interim title fight. If rust bothers anyone, it'll be Oleg. In fact, almost all signs point to Peter winning.

He's been far more active, he's stronger, he's 12 years younger, and he's fought better opposition of late. He is also, to be totally fair, the only guy since 2004 to give Wladimir Klitschko a real test.

Look, I want to think that this fight will be an action-packed slugfest, but I've been burned too many times by heavyweight boxing. It's also a fight that is being contested more to see who the returning wrench in the works, Vitali Klitschko, will fight for a title, in a shot he doesn't deserve.

But, again -- Jesus Christ, FINALLY. At least we'll be done talking about Maskaev-Peter. It was never a real marquee fight, and it's been so drawn out. Just hope for the best from the fight, that's the most enthusiasm I can muster.

On the undercard, the IBF lightweight title will be contested when champion Juan Diaz (33-0, 17 KO, largely considered the world's best 135-pounder) takes on Nate "Last Chance" Campbell (31-5-1, 25 KO).

Lots of folks are talking about Campbell being a live dog. He is. He's a good fighter. He's a strong puncher, as anyone will tell you -- hell, ask Joel Casamayor. As Campbell has recently brought up, Casamayor counts Campbell as the hardest puncher he's ever faced.

Juan Diaz is 24. Campbell is 35. And Juan Diaz's last two fights have been bigger wins than any in Campbell's career.

I'm not disrespecting Nate at all, nor do I count him out. The man can fight, and I think -- or hope, anyway -- that he gives Diaz more trouble than Julio Diaz or Popo Freitas did last year. But Campbell has never proven himself on a large stage. He's had a couple of chances, and come up short.

He waxes fringe contenders and below. I'm not going to call him a gatekeeper, because he's better than that. He's a real contender, and in fact, he long ago earned a shot at Julio Diaz that he never got. He slaughtered Ricky Quiles a year ago to get this fight, and it's just now happening, and that's only because Don King got in the way of Juan Diaz fighting Michael Katsidis.

The young Diaz -- he's in college! he's in college! he's in college! -- is not a big puncher, but he never stops going. He's the freakin' Energizer bunny out there. He punches, punches, punches, punches. It's almost impossible to get anything off against him. You can't build a rhythm because you can't get him to stop moving. And it's even hard to counter-punch him, because how many counters can you throw?

I will never think that any fighter will quit. That's not a prediction I can bring myself to make, just like I find it somewhat disrespectful to predict a knockout prior to, say, the fourth round. But Juan Diaz has made his last two opponents give up. Nate's in for an uphill climb.

Give me Sam Peter by late TKO in a sloppy fight, and Diaz by unanimous decision.

Next time out, I'll take a closer look at Showtime's counter: David Haye v. Enzo Maccarinelli. If you want to see some pretty big fellas throw leather, that's your destination on Saturday night.

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