Boxing

Valuev vs Haye: Does Nikolai Valuev’s reckoning now await him?

By Bill Patrice Jones - As almost all boxing fans will now know, David Haye is scheduled to meet Nikolai Valuev for the now lightly regarded WBA heavyweight title in an undecided venue. This article is not concerning David Haye or his very controversial negotiations leading to this fight. I wish not to ponder once more on whether Haye feigned injury whilst in training for Wladimir Klitschko or whether he proved himself a coward when offered the contract against Vitali Klitschko only to turn it down.

The fact is our current reigning WBA champion will now face the love/hate figure of David Haye, former undisputed and unified cruiserweight champion of the world..

Nikolai Valuev has been sitting precariously on his throne for some time now, ever since ‘winning’ the WBA strap against John Ruiz way back in 2005. For some he is merely indicative of the times, an exceptionally almost freakishly big man in the era of big men. Our heavyweights today are heavier and bigger than ever before dwarfing many of their historical predecessors. Whilst unentertaining he has worked his way to a title shot after seemingly going nowhere for years and in that space of time he has beaten: John Ruiz, Evander Holyfield, Sergey Lyakhovich, Owen Beck, Monte Barrett and Jameel ‘big time Mcline. Obviously it goes without saying that he is in no way comparable to either of the Klitschko brothers who sit miles ahead in talent from the rest of the division. Yet nonetheless he is one of the top heavyweights of this era and any unification fight he potentially involves himself in could be lucrative.

Some are kind to Valuev, I and many others are not. It is my estimation that Nikolai Valuev is one of the biggest disasters in heavyweight boxing for years and symbolises all of the horrible traits of both today’s heavies and boxing politics. Heavyweight boxing is suffering terribly when it comes to producing entertaining and competitive bouts and I place much of the blame here on the significant increase in size seen in the heavyweights over the last decade. Whilst you will always find the few incredibly talented big guys (Lennox Lewis, Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir Klitschko) in general the steady increase in poundage has seen far too many heavies surface who are too heavy to be true athletes and too lethargic to perform impressively. Nikolai Valuev epitomizes everything about this ‘modern heavyweight’. He seems to resemble more some form of carnival attraction or WWE gimmick than a professional boxer. If his in ring performances were good enough we might forget what Valuev ‘looks like’ however as we have seen they only confirm the accusation. If anyone out there has enjoyed watching Nikolai Valuev fight then I applaud you. For he is arguably one of the worst titlists in heavyweight history, seen often enough merely pawing a lumbering jab out for 12 dull rounds, picking up a disgraceful decision in the meantime.

For Valuev never even managed to legitimately ‘win’ the WBA title. He lost his first fight with John Ruiz so clearly the crowd hurled jeers and boos at the ring during the new champion’s celebrations. It seems being well promoted and a potential moneymaker because of your appearance sometimes means more than actually ‘winning’ a title fight.

Valuev defended his title against the mediocre Monte Barrett, Jameel Mcline and Owen Beck (the last of which being one of his best stoppage wins) the big man from Russia was forced to meet his mandatory opponent Ruslan Chagaev. While the boxing world held their breaths as the bell went for the 12th we awaited the decision. Valuev had been coming agonizingly close to toppling Marciano’s unbeaten streak and the insult of having such a caliber of fighter do so was painful to swallow. Fortunately Valuev lost fairly and squarely, impressing me greatly with his humility in the bout’s aftermath. Valuev’s being outworked, outfought and out boxed by such a naturally smaller man, one who was last seen failing to land a punch against the impervious Wladimir Klitschko might serve as a crucial indicator of just how far ahead of the division the brothers are.

Valuev came back to the title by beating the unknown Frenchman Jean Francois Bergeron over 12 and easily outworking the completely shot Sergey Lyakhovich to win on points. He then faced John Ruiz for the second time in another tedious sleep inducing affair and was awarded yet another controversial decision. The crowd met the decision with boos and jeers just as they had the first fight but Valuev walked away with the vacant world title.

If things could not get any worse Valuev was to follow his controversial win over Ruiz with an embarrassing and even more controversial defence against Evander Holyfield. Watching a befuddled giant, hopelessly following an almost geriatric legend Holyfield around the ring for 12 rounds was ugly. Valuev threw nothing more sinister than the type of jab a wild bear might deliver. Holyfield even in his seriously deteriorated state and advanced age managed to outwork Nikolai for 12. He looked every inch the athlete Valuev is not, moving and potshoting enough in this author’s view to win a justified decision. Yet it would not be a Valuev bout without the customary controversial decision and series of boos in disgust from the crowd. One cringes at the sight, knowing just how a prime Holyfield would have wiped the floor with this current ‘champion’.

Nikolai Valuev now faces David Haye for his world title. I as a boxing fan am angry at Haye for talking big about the Klitschko brothers for almost a year and failing to make a bout materialize. I am also disappointed as a boxing fan to not have a Haye Klitschko match up to look forward to. This is not the Haye fight I wanted but I am happy for one thing. I believe David Haye will finally bring about the end to the horrible reign of Nikolai Valuev in devastating fashion. I predict a lopsided affair over 12 or even more shockingly a technical knockout of the overwhelmed giant. It might not tell us much about whether Haye could beat either Klitschko but it would remove Valuev once and for all.

Article posted on 03.08.2009



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