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Shields vs Hammer: Former titleholder Samuel Peter on the comeback trail

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The 38-year-old ex-heavyweight titlist fights again on Saturday night.

James Toney v Samuel Peter Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

A name familiar to OG fight fans has popped up. Heavyweight hopeful Samuel Peter is back in the swing of things, and will fight on the Claressa Shields-Christina Hammer undercard at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Peter hails from Nigeria, and now makes Las Vegas his home. He checked in with Bad Left Hook and clued us in on what made him decide to get back into the fighting life.

“Yeah, it’s been a journey coming back,” Peter said. “I started going back to the gym around September of last year and I was weighing around 330 at that time. I needed a break from the boxing to get my head straight, I wasn’t very committed to the sport like I used to be, and because of that I lost some fights that I wasn’t supposed to, so it was good that I stepped away for a while.”

BoxRec says Peter is 38 years old; he fought in February, beating 2-21 Gerardo Escobar in Mexico. On Saturday, he fights 15-6-1 Mario Heredia at Boardwalk Hall, and you can watch the scrap on Facebook Fightnight Live, via stream. That show kicks off at 6 pm ET.

Before the return in February, Peter last fought in December 2016, and he was stopped by Kubrat Pulev.

He burst onto many a radar screen when in 2005 he knocked Wladimir Klitschko down three times, in Atlantic City, in a title elimination bout, but Wlad took the UD.

He beat James Toney twice, Jameel McCline, then Oleg Maskaev. A title crack against Vitali Klitschko in 2008 went poorly. Vitali hammered the Nigerian in Klitschko’s first fight back after a four-year hiatus and re-took control of the WBC heavyweight crown. He’d been deemed “champion emeritus” during his time away.

Peter dropped his next bout to Eddie Chambers, and then beat some journeyman sorts to bring him to another chance against a Klitschko. It was Wlad again, and Peter got stopped out, this time in round 10 in a 2010 clash.

He lost to Robert Helenius seven months later, and then took three years off. He had one scrap in 2014, two in 2016, and then was inactive before gloving up in Mexico.

So, was he missing the sport, or bored, or what?

“I started missing the sport after some time, but I wasn’t sure if it was real or my head was playing tricks on me, so when I started going to the gym, I said to myself that it’s going to be 100 percent or nothing, and so far it has been good,” Peter said.

“I’m down to the 250s and my motivation is to become the heavyweight champion of the world again. This is the beginning of the new chapter.”

(The fight against McCline was for the interim WBC crown and he and Maskaev battled for the actual belt, lifted off of Hasim Rahman, which went to Vitali soon after.)

“Concerning my opponent Heredia, I have seen some videos of him. He is decent, he moves well and tries to be a boxer, but I have something for him come Saturday night. If you ask me, I’ll say I still got it, my head is good, my condition is good and I still have my power, but there’s a saying in boxing, and it says you are as good as your last fight, which means I still have to prove myself.”

Peter will be cornered by ex-hitter Kofi Jantuah, age 44, who owns a 34-2-1 mark as a pro, boxing from 1993-2009.

“I think Peter is very serious about his comeback,” Jantuah said. “I mean, for a guy to dedicate himself and train hard every day to get to where he is at right now can’t be a fluke. Samuel had only 20 fights as an amateur, and he came up fast in the professional ranks, so when you look at that it seems like he has been around for a while, but he is still young, and still has a lot left. When I started training him, he was around 320 and today he weighed in at 259, so that right there proves that the guy has dedicated himself for the comeback.”

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