Peter fills void after Maskaev couldn't defend belt

NEW YORK -- Samuel Peter became the World Boxing Council's
interim heavyweight champion Monday after Oleg Maskaev dropped out
of their Oct. 6 title fight with a back injury.

Maskaev (34-5, 26 KOs) won the WBC heavyweight title by knocking
out Hasim Rahman in August 2006, but the Russian-American champion
hasn't been back in the ring since December because of injuries and
slow negotiations for new fights.

Last Friday, he scrapped his scheduled bout with Peter at
Madison Square Garden because of several herniated discs in his
back. Maskaev is expected to be out of action for at least three
more months.

Faced with more than 14 months without a heavyweight title
fight, the WBC's board of governors voted to hand the interim title
to Peter (28-1, 22 KOs), the rising Nigerian fighter.

He still hopes to appear at the Garden on Oct. 6, though a
replacement opponent hasn't been chosen or approved.