by T.K. Stewart  

In a surprising development, Vitali Klitschko, who hasn't fought in nearly four years, has opened in some sportsbooks as the betting favorite over WBC heavyweight titlist Samuel Peter.  

Both Klitschko and Peter were at Gallagher's Steakhouse in New York City on Wednesday to formally announce their upcoming fight at the O2 World Arena in Berlin, Germany on October 11th. Klitschko appeared relaxed, fit and confident whereas Peter looked to be carrying around extra pounds and was described by one observer as being "portly". Klitschko, a towering figure at 6'7" tall and 250 pounds, looked straight down at Peter who stands just a shade over 6'0" in height when the two squared off for the cameras.       

As it stands right now, odds can be found in Klitschko's favor, which is shocking considering he hasn't fought in what will be 46 months, or since December 2004.  During the time Klitschko has been away from the game, Peter, 27, has racked up nine wins against one loss while adding the USBA, NABF and WBC titles to his mantle. 'Big Sam' has a record of 30-1 (23)KO and suffered his only loss against Vitali's younger brother, Wladimir, in 2005.  

"I know the fight will be very interesting," says Klitschko, a former WBO and WBC titlist, who turned 37 last month.  "Many people, skeptical people, say that because I've been more than three years outside of the ring that I can't win.  Don't worry, I didn't lose my skills in three years."  

Klitschko, who has been declared a WBC Champion Emeritus, and retired after suffering a string of injuries, has a record of 35-2(34)KO and is predicting that he will win by knockout.  Vitali claims his motivation in returning to the ring is to realize a dream of he and his brother to hold heavyweight titles simultaneously.  

For his part, Peter will be training in Fryeburg, Germany after having spent the past couple of months working out with his trainer Stacey McKinley in Nigeria.    "I'm the real heavyweight champion of the world, the true one," said Peter. And then he directed his comments toward Klitschko.

"I've got a question for you.  Who did you ever beat?  You never beat anybody to become the heavyweight champion of the world.  I beat a champion to become a champion, so stop calling yourself a two-time heavyweight champion," said Peter.

Whatever the case, the opening odds are validation for those that have criticized Peter's recent performances.  Some have said that the 'Nigerian Nightmare' has not been in top shape and were surprised to see him struggle in successive fights against James Toney and Jameel McCline.  Peter, however, dismisses the critics.   "I'm going to knock him out, trust me," he said.    

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