NEW YORK—Heavyweight contender Jameel “Big Time” McCline (38-7-3, 23 KOs) will face newly crowned World Boxing Council interim heavyweight champion Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter (28-1, 22 KOs) at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Oct. 6.
McCline was supposed to meet Vitali Klitschko on Sept. 22 in Munich, Germany, but Klitschko pulled out less than two weeks before the fight. McCline subsequently agreed to fight DaVarryl “Touch of Sleep” Williamson for the North American Boxing Organization heavyweight title on Oct. 6.
The originally scheduled main event on the Garden card was supposed to have been WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev defending against then-WBC No. 1-ranked mandatory challenger Peter; however, Maskaev’s promoter pulled the boxer out of the match on Friday (Sept. 21) due to a reported back injury.
The WBC named Peter its interim heavyweight champion on Monday (Sept. 24), and McCline agreed to step into the heavyweight world championship main event to face Peter late on Tuesday.
“It’s crazy but that’s why you’ve got to be ready for anything in boxing,” McCline said. “I was in against Vitali, then Vitali was out. I was in against Williamson, and now I’m fighting for the world heavyweight championship against Samuel Peter.
“I’m a big, strong and talented heavyweight that can stand up and punch with Peter. This isn’t the first time I’ve been in the ring with a world champion. I’m coming to win.”
Tickets priced at $400, $250, $150, $100 and $50 are on sale at the Garden box office and all Ticketmaster locations or by calling Ticketmaster at 212-307-7171, 201-507-8900, 631-888-9000, or 914-454-3388. Ticketmaster purchases are subject to convenience charges.
The Peter-McCline 12-rounder will be televised on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on Oct. 6 live at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast). The event is being promoted by Don King Productions in association with Madison Square Garden and Duva Boxing.
Three domestically non-televised matches remain on the card: Two-time 147- and 154-pound world champions Jose Antonio Rivera (38-5-1, 24 KOs), from Worcester, Mass., and Daniel Santos
(30-3-1, 21 KOs), from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, will square off in an elimination bout to determine the World Boxing Association super welterweight No. 1 ranking and mandatory challenger to recently crowned champion Joachim Alcine; Williamson (24-4, 20 KOs), the World Boxing Association No. 4-ranked contender from Denver, Colo., has now been matched against Australian heavyweight Kali “Checkmate” Meehan (32-3, 26 KOs) to determine the NABO champion; and Polish favorite Andrew Golota (39-6-1, 32 KOs), from Warsaw, will oppose Mike Tyson conqueror Kevin “The Clones Colossus” McBride (34-5-1, 29 KOs), from Ireland, for the International Boxing Federation North American championship.
Peter, from Akwa Ibom, Nigeria, now residing in Las Vegas, has been waiting around all year while Klitschko attempted to come out of retirement, side step him and go to straight to Maskaev with the WBC title at stake.
Klitschko and his promoters dangled millions of dollars in front of the feared Nigerian knockout artist to step aside, but the money and Klitschko’s ability to fight never materialized. Klitschko has yet to participate in his last five scheduled matches and has not been in a prizefight since 2004, although he did run in and lose an election to become mayor of Kiev in his native Ukraine in 2006.
The good news came from the WBC on Monday when its board of governors made the decision to declare Peter its interim heavyweight champion. Now Maskaev must face the Peter-McCline winner in his next start or surrender his title if he is unable to participate for any reason.
Promoter Don King has been telling everyone within earshot that Peter could be the next Tyson (King co-promotes Peter with Duva Boxing), and the Nigerian’s 76-percent knockout percentage backs the claim. His lone loss came by decision in 2005 against Wladimir Klitschko after Peter had knocked him down three times.
Peter has since honed his boxing skills to the extent he beat Old School boxing master James “Lights Out” Toney twice in a row in his most recent appearances—both on 12-round decisions. Those victories made Peter the WBC No. 1-ranked mandatory challenger.
McCline, born in Harlem and now residing in West Palm Beach, Fla., last fought in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 13, 2004, against Chris Byrd for the IBF heavyweight crown.
McCline stunned Byrd with a staggering right hand that floored the defending champion early in the second round, which almost ended the fight. Byrd amazingly finished the session and the fight, and McCline ended up on the losing end of a razor-thin split decision that could have gone either way.
Following the loss to Byrd, and a couple of stumbling blocks, McCline put together a string of six wins to earn another shot at a world title, this time against Nikolai “Russian Giant” Valuev. At a weight of more than 590 pounds, it was the heaviest combined weight for a title belt in history.
McCline performed exceedingly well, winning the first two rounds before suffering a twisted knee just as the bell sounded to end the third round. The freak injury left him unable to continue in the bout.
A three-sport high school star that went on to play collegiate basketball, McCline began boxing at a “late stage” and after a two-win, two-loss, one-draw record to begin his heavyweight career, he began to soar through the rankings, putting together a streak of 28 fights without suffering a loss.
His first world title fight came on Dec, 7, 2002, against then-World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. McCline lost a hard-fought battle by a 10th-round technical knockout before winning his next three fights to set up the meeting with Byrd.