Nikolai Valuev: "I will bounce back"

Valuev vs Chagaev15.04.7 - Photo by David Martin Warr, DKP - Nikolai Valuev has vowed to bounce back stronger than ever after losing his WBA heavyweight belt to Ruslan Chagaev. The mandatory challenger handed the Russian Giant his first defeat in 48 contests when he clinched a close majority decision in Stuttgart on Saturday night. He was ahead 115-113 and 117-111 on two scorecards while the third judge called the bout a 114-114 draw. "It certainly was an exciting encounter and a great night of boxing - except for the outcome," manager Wilfried Sauerland stated. "It was very close."

Valuev (46-1, 34 KOs) was off to the better start and kept marching forward throughout the twelve rounds, working cleverly behind his left jab. However, it was Chagaev who landed the clearer punches. The crowd roared every time he got through with his southpaw left - even though it did little to impress the Russian Giant, who proved his great chin. Chagaev dominated the middle of the fight before Valuev upped pressure towards the end, firing in a few good combinations himself.

The pattern remained the same, with Chagaev relying on his speed and counter-punches and Valuev controlling the center of the ring. "I committed too many mistakes," he admitted. "I did not throw enough punches and also had trouble finding my feet. I am respectful of my opponent and have to admit that the decision was okay. The better fighter won."

Valuev remained optimistic he will put himself back in line for a world title shot soon. "There is no reason for me to put myself into a coffin. I will keep boxing and will be good enough to move back up the rankings in the WBA and get a new title shot soon. I hope Ruslan will stay champion long enough for me to get a second chance. I would be happy to box him again."

Valuev´s co-promoter Don King also was confident that the champion will bounce back. "I am very proud of Nikolai," said King. "It was a great fight. Niko will come back and attack again. Today it was a David versus Goliath battle and the winners are the boxing and the people."

Meanwhile, Wilfried Sauerland praised the development of his fighter. "Those who have followed Nikolai´s career could see that he has again shown great improvement today. He will keep working on his game and I think in at least one year he will be the WBA´s top challenger again."

On the undercard, Oleg Platov retained his IBF Intercontinental heavyweight belt with a tenth-round KO victory over Colin Wilson. René Dettweiler also saw off Ivica Perkovic
(DQ 8), while Francesco Pianeta outpointed Paolo Ferrara and Yoan Pablo Hernandez defeated Hector Alfredo Avila on points. Michel Trabant also beat Albert Starikov.

Article posted on 16.04.2007

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