Valuev takes out Vidoz, and moves closer to a meaningful fight!

10.12.04 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza - - Well, it wasn’t Hasim Rahman, Fres Oquendo, or Davaryll Williamson, but the Italian Paolo Vidoz, was Russian Nicolai Valuev’s sternest test to date. This past Saturday, October 9th, in Erfurt, Germany, the man known as the “Beast from the East” passed it with flying colors.

What makes this victory just a little more meaningful is the fact that both men came in it to win it. Vidoz, unlike a number of Valuev’s previous opponents, didn’t give up before he got in the ring.

Valuev kept the Italian at bay and at a distance, using his advantage in arm length by pumping the jab. On occasion, the game Italian was able to break through inside, and deliver swinging punches, that unfortunately for him, had little effect on the Russian native. Eventually, after about the 5th round, with the first four being just barely in Valuev’s favor, the Italian began to tire and Valuev got in the driver’s seat and took over.

Although Valuev’s punches were not necessarily very accurate, nevertheless the accumulation began to take its toll on Vidoz. It was reported that Vidoz complained to his cornermen that he could no longer feel his arms. In the 9th, the fight basically turned into a one sided beating, and Vidoz conceded to the effect by taking a knee. Shortly thereafter, his corner asked the referee to stop the fight.

With that said, the question that begs to be asked is, what is next? As an avid follower of Valuev, I have heard of three possible paths that are open to him. First of all, Valuev and his team agreed to a three-man elimination Tournament between himself, Vidoz, and Dane Steffen Nielsen. With this recent victory, a fight with Dane Nielsen would be the expected outcome based on signed contracts. However, of the three possibilities, this would probably be considered a step down, seeing as Nielsen’s only loss was to elite class punching bag Julius Francis. Now Nielsen’s supporters might justify it with his victory over Francis in the rematch, but how do you justify fighting two under .500 fighters in a row in your last two fights? Not to mention the fact that neither of them have any wins. Now to be fair, that is not far off from where Valuev was as early as a few fights ago, but in terms of “what have you done for me lately,” Valuev has slowly but surely increased the level of his opponents, and the Vidoz, Bango, and Ryan wins attest to that.

A fight against Nielsen makes no sense now, because he is not a step up in class, and that is about the most important thing that Valuev needs. I think that, however, insignificant the Vidoz fight was on world level, if the Dane imposes the contract, then Valuev should do anything and everything in his power to ditch that fight, and seek better competition.

Option 2 was the one that most people are commenting on because, as I understand, that is what was said on German TV, after the fight. The proposal is to get Valuev in the ring with either Micheal Moorer or Henry Akinwande, two known “names” in boxing circles, who are, safe to say, on their way downhill.

Based on the Tua fight, I think fighting Micheal Moorer is pretty ridiculous. The guy went out faster than Crystal Pepsi, and fighting him is no different then taking 12 rounds with a heavy bag. A victory over him would be on par with Vlad’s destruction of Fabio Moli, and would do little to prepare Valuev for top ten, or top 20 fighters. If by some Christmas miracle Moorer comes into the fight with a “Sanders-Vlad” mindset, and pulls the upset of sorts, Valuev will be denounced as a blown up myth.

Akinwande is a totally different matter. First of all, he has only lost to Lewis and McCall, two premier fighters at the time, and more or less lost respectively (at least a disqualification against Lewis isn’t nearly as bad as a 1st round knockout loss to David Tua). He has a more or less meaningful recent victory against Hoffman, and could therefore still look like a good win, provided Valuev comes into the fight ready to do precisely that. Akinwande will also be a good test because of his height, and sneaky clutching ability. In case it happens that Valuev lands a fight with Ruiz, this experience will be invaluable.

Lastly, and as the biggest shock of all, current Heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko has stated that, “I know Valuev, and would like to fight him in Germany. He is well known there and the fight would very successful.” According to sources, Valuev’s German promoter, Wilfredo Saurlend, is willing to make the fight happen.

This last bit of news leaves me a bit torn. On the one hand, I have always contended that Valuev should get a chance at the big time, and it seems that is only possible if it happens outside the United States. With Klitschko not unfamiliar to the German boxing scene, it is very likely that if Klitschko takes out Williams in December, he would be willing to travel back to Europe and defend the WBC title. The problem I have with this fight is that, I don’t think either man deserves to face the other quite yet. Although I agree that Williams is a very worthy challenger for the world title, considering his recent upset victory over Tyson, I also think that Vitali can only justify his place, and challenge self picked opponents. If Vitali wins at least one other major belt from whichever fighter holds it on the 14th of November, whether it be Ruiz, Byrd, Golota, or Mccline. Unfortunately those are the only four guys that carry any figurative weight in the heavyweight rankings, and are the only ones I expect a champion to challenge in order to reserve the right to be called that.

In terms of Valuev, I just don’t think he has earned his title shot yet. Vidoz, and Bango before him were both Olympic medal winners, and are not bad victims for Valuev, but honestly, although technically sound opponents, they had not accomplished much as pros. Furthermore, a seasoned pro, is precisely who Valuev has to beat to consider himself worthy of a title shot. To add to this, Valuev himself stated in an interview after the Bango fight that he is still not comfortable with his form and technique, and is not yet willing to challenge for a world title. Although this is the same tune he has sung for the past couple of fights, it is still a tune I am willing to listen to, simply because its important to remember that Valuev has virtually no amateur experience.

Basically this forces Valuev to master his skills on the job, and that is why he has had more meaningless tune ups, than regular accomplished amateur fighters who can skip the formalities of knocking out 20 tomato cans, and face tougher competition sooner. In my opinion, I don’t think that a truly meaningful fight is possible between Valuev & Klitschko if it takes place next year as predicted.

Then again, how often does somebody get a chance to fight for a world title? Perhaps it is better for Valuev to take the chance at the title now, before he no longer has any say in the matter? Whatever the case may be, this wil not be the last we hear about the Russian mountain.


Article posted on 12.10.2004

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