by Fox Doucette
What happens when you get almost a thousand pounds’ worth of humanity in for a heavyweight twin bill at the Historical Fight Night Arena? Well, it’s a recipe for some thundering punches from giant men intent on tearing each other’s heads off, and it is glorious. Or so we’re hoping, as Lennox Lewis, fresh off his fight with Michael Grant, takes on Primo Carnera, who himself avenged a loss to Jack Sharkey in order to seize the heavyweight title for himself in 1933.
Your co-feature? Lighter on skill, but not one ounce lighter on weight, as Samuel Peter, in from his demolition of Oleg Maskaev, steps into the ring against John Tate, who won a piece of the title in 1979 against Gerrie Coetzee. Tate was vulnerable to the big right hand. Sam Peter dropped Wladimir Klitschko three times…with big right hands. Uh-oh.
From the Historical Fight Night Arena Presented By You, If You Donate On Patreon, in San Dimas, California, these fights are scheduled for 12 rounds using the Unified Rules of the Association of Boxing Commissions. Scoring is on the 10-point must system, there is no three knockdown rule, no standing eight count, only the referee can stop the fight, and a fighter cannot be saved by the bell in any round including the twelfth and final round.
Now, for the thousands in attendance and the millions watching from around the world…
Let’s Make History.
Samuel Peter (3/8/2008, 30-1, 23 KOs) vs. John Tate (10/20/1979, 20-0, 15 KOs)
Tate was a man on the rise when he got into the time machine; Sam Peter was a man recovering from his first loss with a few fights to get him back into the title picture on his time machine moment. Tate would soon taste the power of Mike Weaver and Trevor Berbick, essentially ending his career even as he had 15 more pro fights left in him, none of them against anything resembling serious contenders.
Sam Peter was infamous for rabbit punching, so we’ve brought in Vic Drakulich to referee this contest, a man with a quick hook when he sees fouls happening in front of him. What, you thought this was going to be a drama-free squash match? We tilt the rules around here when necessary…
Not that this mattered for Sam Peter, who came out looking to set the tone and found an obliging opponent in front of him who had a similar mind toward establishing himself early. Peter landed a mighty overhand right mere seconds into the first round that got Tate’s attention, and when Tate came in close to try to land something in closer quarters along the lines of the left hook over the top, Peter grabbed and mauled, not wanting to sell a dime for a dollar in terms of his advantage in power.
As the round went on, Peter began to take a step back when Tate started coming in, but this is where he got into trouble. Peter landed one hell of an overhand right, but it was a clear rabbit punch, and Drakulich issued his first warning of the fight. Sam Peter was a guy who never brought an uppercut to an overhand right fight, and this could prove to be a problem for him as the fight goes on.
Second verse, same as the first, and Peter shortened up his delivery on the right hand a little, trying to place it more accurately. His clubbing shots did not land cleanly, but one thing that was becoming readily apparent was that Tate was feeling their effect nonethe…
Hold that thought, folks. Tate landed a huge sweeping right hand over the top, and Peter found himself backing up, thrown into a defensive posture for the moment by the force of a wide blow he didn’t see in time to pick off with his defense. Tate threw the short left jab to keep Peter’s attention, but all of that was naught but a ruse to try and land more of those big overhand bombs with the right hand. The hunted had become the hunter, and Peter could do little more than grapple rather than punch back.
Two rounds in, we had ourselves a fight.
Or, well, we did until Sam Peter got a minute on the stool to clear his head after the assault that had come his way in the second round. Returning to a level footing, Peter was able to re-establish control of the fight, as his own right hand landed true over the top. Once again, he was able to time Tate coming in…and once again, he forced Tate’s head down only to hammer it with a rabbit punch.
Referee Vic Drakulich pulled Peter aside, motioning to the judges, yelling “One point! Back of the head! One point!”
9-9 rounds are all well and good, but too many of them and you’re in for all kinds of problems.
That wild, looping overhand right kept coming, and Tate learned to work his way inside with his head down, heedless of the degree to which he’d left himself open to an uppercut; he knew one wasn’t coming.
Which, in turn, brings on all kinds of philosophical questions about how far a man is willing to go for a victory. After all, the term “rabbit punch” refers to giving a blow to the back of the neck of an actual rabbit to dispatch the creature in advance of stripping it for fur and meat; a similar method is used to dispatch cattle at a slaughterhouse, there accomplished not by a fist or karate chop but by a steel piston.
All of this was academic, as Peter landed a crushing overhand right to the back of the head of John Tate, which knocked Tate utterly out cold and left many in attendance wondering if indeed Tate had suffered a rabbit’s fate.
Rather than award the victory to the man still standing, however, Drakulich, fed up with the ignorance of his orders to prevent just this sort of outcome, disqualified Sam Peter. The crowd howled and booed at first…but when the replay clearly showed the dirty punch, the crowd went from anger to stunned silence.
Tate stirred…regained consciousness…and rose to one knee before medical personnel, just to be safe, got him onto a stretcher and into the time machine first for a trip into the future for healing and a mind wipe and then back to his own time. As this was going on, the crowd cheered, relieved that they had not just seen a man essentially deleted from the history books.
RESULT: TATE W-DQ4 PETER.
Lennox Lewis (4/29/2000, 36-1-1, 28 KOs) vs. Primo Carnera (6/29/1933, 75-6, 62 KOs)
Primo Carnera makes Deontay Wilder look like Muhammad Ali in terms of the quality of opponents he faced in his career. Indeed, commentator Gene Ward referred to Carnera as a “manufactured heavyweight” in his call of the second Jack Sharkey fight, and Sharkey—a man Carnera outweighed by sixty pounds—was absolutely getting the better of the fight before he went down and out on an uppercut in the sixth. Sharkey had boxed circles around Carnera and even floored the giant Italian in their first fight; the United Press had scored that bout 12-1-2 in rounds to the Navy man.
So maybe this wasn’t the sharpest matchup on paper. But then again, when Lennox Lewis took his eye off the ball against Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman, well…
Lewis has been on this show before. So, for that matter, has Primo Carnera. Lewis stopped George Chuvalo on cuts in six rounds; Carnera got his ass kicked in two rounds by George Foreman.
The same sort of tone was set here, Lewis landing the right hand almost at will from the very start, Carnera unable to bring enough power to the fore thanks to his suspect-at-best actual boxing ability to keep Lewis off him. Carnera was no Vitali Klitschko as a puncher, and he was no Evander Holyfield as a boxer.
Lewis swarmed Carnera in a way you didn’t usually see from the big Brit, knowing that the man in front of him posed a threat only insofar as he had a puncher’s chance. It wasn’t quite the Mike Tyson fight—how could it be, with the Ambling Alp enjoying an eight-inch height and 50-pound weight advantage on Iron Mike?—but it was a slaughter from the opening bell.
Lewis backed Carnera up to the ropes, unleashing a barrage, punishing the Italian with every left hand and clubbing right and even matching Primo strength-for-strength because no matter how much you try and give a 1933 man a 2016 training camp, it holds no sway against a man whose strength and conditioning was a lifelong commitment. Lewis may have lacked focus, but he was always a physical specimen.
Back into the corner Lewis chased Carnera. Five right hands without reply. Finally, referee Arthur Mercante had seen enough. That fifth right had Carnera’s eyes glazed over as only a man who is standing only thanks to instinct sees his eyes fail him.
At 2:57 of the first round, this was a demonstration of why we have two fights on these cards. When one is a dog, people don’t go home after three minutes wondering whether their ticket was worth the price of admission.
RESULT: LEWIS KO1 CARNERA.
Sugar Ray Leonard owns two split decision wins on this show. He won one from Floyd Mayweather; he took one from Oscar De La Hoya. Will Manny Pacquiao make it three? That’s your welterweight main event next week.
Your co-feature? We’re takin’ it back to the old school…at least for one of these guys. Joey Maxim gets a trip forward in time from 1952, where in the sweltering heat of Yankee Stadium in the summertime, Maxim knocked out Sugar Ray Robinson (and enjoyed a 15-pound weight advantage, it should be noted.)
Maxim’s up against Adonis Stevenson. Will the crushing power of Stevenson be enough to overcome the superior old-school boxing savvy of Maxim? Or will the old triumph over the new? Find out next week, on another episode of Historical Fight Night.