Nikolay Valuev vs. Ruslan Chagaev: The Russian Giant Moving Closer To Marciano's Record

09.04.07 - By Matt Stein: WBA heavyweight champion Nikolay Valuev (46-0, 34 KO’s) defends his boxing title on Saturday night against mandatory challenger Ruslan Chagaev (22-0-1, 17 KO’s), known as the “White Tyson,” at the Porsche-Arena, in Stuttgart, Germany. Valuev, 33, will be making his fourth defense of his title, the title which he originally won in a 12-round majority decision victory over John Ruiz in December 17, 2005, is taking on a fighter – Chagaev – who is almost a foot shorter, at 6’1”, 228 lbs, and 100 pounds lighter than Valuev. Naturally, this has been a common occurrence for Valuev, who since winning his title, has towered over virtually every opponent, except for the 6’6”Jameel McCline, although, even he, seemed small next to the bear-like Valuev..

Chagaev, however, a fighter with very few wins over named opponents on his boxing record, will look practically like a midget in comparison to Valuev, and it will be interesting to see how, if at all possible, that Chagaev will be able to make up for his limited size and reach against a fighter as huge as Valuev.

Chagaev, 28, is largely known more for his high workrate than his limited power, tends to do most of his work on the inside, using short, crisp combinations to keep his opponents on the defense. His busy style, and high work rate, makes him a rarity in the heavyweight division, where most fighters tend to be conservative with their punch volume.

It's an effective style, for the most part, at least against the smaller, more limited opponents that Chagaev has fought during his short career. To get to the number #1 spot in the WBA, Chagaev had to beat Vladimir Virchis, (12-round majority decision) a tough, mostly unknown Russian heavyweight, Michael Sprott (8-round TKO) and John Ruiz. To be sure, all are decent fighters, but not what most people would expect, given some of the other top ranked challengers in the WBA, such as Hasim Rahman, Sergei Liakhovich, Calvin Brock, Lamon Brewster or Alexander Dimitrenko, all of which would probably give Chagaev a lot of problems, and he would have difficulty beating any of them, much less all of them, based on what I’ve seen of him.

Valuev, 33, is quickly moving in on Rocky Marciano’s record of 49-0, and as improbably as it might seem, considering his lack of speed and punching power, Valuev would seem to have an excellent chance at reaching and surpassing that mark, at this point. That is, unless somehow a unification bout can be made with Wladimir Klitschko, the IBF heavyweight champion, who with his large size, fast hands and excellent power, would likely create a lot of problems for Valuev to deal with. However, a match with Wladimir Klitschko, or even his brother, Vitali, probably is not going to happen in the near future, contrary to the comments Valuev has said recently to the media, mainly because of the different promoters involved, as well as the different television networks that back both fighters. Other than the Klitschko brothers, there is really no other heavyweights on the horizon that can probably beat Valuev, certainly not Chagaev, who will likely get steamrolled on Saturday night, in an impressive fashion.

As for Chagaev’s chances against Valuev - they’re not good. The 100 pound weight advantage, on top of the 12 inches in reach and height, for Valuev, will be an almost insurmountable obstacle for Chagaev to deal with. Certainly, if Chagaev had power and speed, like a real Tyson – and not a “White Tyson” – I would give him an even chance at winning the bout. However, as I mentioned earlier, he’s neither particularly fast nor is he a devastating puncher, making this fight an uphill climb for him. Look for Chagaev to charge out immediately in the 1st round, and try to get inside and negate Valuev’s reach advantage. However, Valuev, an excellent inside fighter, will soon start landing big uppercuts, many of which will shake up the smaller Chagaev, and quickly cause him to abandon his inside came for a safer outside game, one which consists of fighting in short bursts. Valuev, though, will quickly move back in range of Chagaev, and then maul him against the ropes, using his colossal size to wear down Chagaev. As proud as he is, Chagaev will continue fighting as long as possible, and will likely considering the circumstances of him fighting for a title, will absorb a nasty amount of punishment before the referee jumps in to stop the bout.

Prediction: Valuev by 9th round knockout.

Article posted on 10.04.2007

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