It was a bizarre return for heavyweight contender Samuel Peter Thursday night at the Hard Rock Live Arena in Hollywood, Fla., complete with an 11-minute delay in the middle of the bout, a one-minute round, and split shorts for "The Nigerian Nightmare."
But as far as the actual fight was concerned, Peter had little difficulty in winning a pedestrian 10-round unanimous decision over journeyman Robert Hawkins in his first bout since suffering the first loss of his career in September against Wladimir Klitschko.
Scores were 98-91 and 99-90 (twice) for Peter.
"It was good work," said Peter. "I just want to show people that I could box and I could fight. The guy was strong and he's got a good chin."
As expected, Peter landed the first serious blows of the bout, two chopping right hands that moved Hawkins back but had very little effect otherwise. Hawkins tried to push the pace, but his punches had little conviction or accuracy. Midway through the round, Peter jarred Hawkins with a right hand left hook combination, but the Philadelphian weathered the storm until a left hook to the chest put him on the canvas for a brief count just before the bell ending the round.
Peter came out fast behind his jab in the second, and though Hawkins was gamely engaged, it was obvious that his lack of power removed any kind of trepidation from Peter, who trudged forward with little regard for incoming fire.
The pace slowed and the fight got sloppy in the third and fourth rounds with Peter relying almost strictly on his jab as he followed Hawkins around the ring and even flirted with the southpaw stance for brief moments.
The bout was interrupted for 11 minutes after the fourth round as controversial trainer Panama Lewis -- a spectator at the event -- and another fan were attended to by the ringside medical staff for heart ailments, thus leaving the arena with no ambulance on the premises.
Once the action resumed, Round 5 was timed for just one minute, with little action from either fighter.
In the sixth, there was more mauling than brawling, and to add to the bizarre nature of the evening, Peter was forced to fight with a split down the back of his trunks as he stalked Hawkins around the ring.
Peter got back on track in the seventh and eighth rounds, shooting out hard jabs and right hands as Hawkins fired back arm punches sporadically, seemingly content just to survive.
Rounds 9 and 10 followed the same pattern, with Peter winning the frames behind his jab while the only event of note occurring in the tenth was Hawkins' trunks almost falling down.
With the victory, Peter improves to 25-1 with 21 KOs; Hawkins falls to 21-5 with 7 KOs.
In undercard action
Unbeaten Russian heavyweight Sultan Ibragimov (19-0, 16 KOs) made the jump from prospect to contender in the co-feature, dropping fringe contender Lance 'Mount' Whitaker (31-4-1, 26 KOs) three times en route to a seventh-round TKO victory.
The end of the entertaining bout came at 2:01, when Whitaker was unable to continue after suffering a cut over his right eye. Ibragimov, a 2000 Olympic Silver medalist, retained his WBO Asia-Pacific title and added the IBF International belt to his trophy case with the win.
Middleweight prospect John Duddy improved to 14-0 (13 KOs) with a third round stoppage of Wilmer Meija (15-5-2, 11 KOs). Meija retired in his corner just before the bell beginning the fourth stanza due to a hand injury.
In the pay-per-view opener, JD Chapman outpointed Edward Gutierrez over 12 rounds to win the USBA South Regional heavyweight title. Scores were 117-111, 118-110, and 119-109 for Chapman, who lifts his record to 19-0 with 17 KOs. Gutierrez falls to 15-1-1 with 6 KOs.