Nikolai Valuev interview

Nikolay ValuevBy Vitali Shaposhnikov: My first call attempt was at 8:30pm Pacific Time. The destination time was 7:30am. After many rings, I felt that the message machine was bound to kick in at any time. But to my amazement, a voice answered ďAlloÖĒ I answered back by saying hello and introducing myself. There was no verbal reply, yet I could hear someone breathing into the phone. I re-introduced myself again and followed up by asking if the person on the other line heard me. After about 10 seconds the man on the other end of the line replied with a ďyes.Ē He then proceeded to tell me in a lethargic voice that it was way too early for a phone call, and that I should not be calling people at this hour. He suggested I try back closer to the evening time, and hung up the phone.

Apparently the former champion Nikolai Valuev likes to sleep in, or as some may say likes to get his beauty sleep. I did as Nikolai suggested, and he did pick up the phone. This time he was driving, but had no problem talking to me for a good 30 minutes at the wheel. Sometimes in the middle of out conversation The Russian Giant would say something derogatory to the other drivers criticizing their road skills. Nevertheless we had a good conversation, and Nikolai was happy to answer most of my questions. Some of them he did not like talking about, and some of them he did not want to go into because he claimed they have been covered over and over by the media..

Here is the transcript of our conversation in no particular order, enjoy:

VS: Nikolai, we have all heard that you have a surgery coming up, if you donít mind please share some information with usÖ

NV: Surgery will be on my shoulder and wrist. The surgery will take place in the fall.

VS: What is your opinion on the recent performance of James Toney in the UFC?

NV: Of course he would lose. How could a boxer compete with a person who specializes in ground game? Thatís simply insane. I have been approached before about fighting in such competitions, but I never will. It takes many years just to prepare yourself for such fighting, just like for any sport. There is a lot to learn in any sport.

VS: Is there a Haye rematch option for you?

NV: I have never seen this in any paperwork. I am not sure where people got the information that there was anything in our contract specifying a mandatory rematch.

VS: What about a possibility of a Holyfield rematch?

NV: Letís not get into this please. I was skeptical of the first fight as it is. We donít need the battle of the veterans. One was enough.

VS: Letís talk about Ruslan Chagaev: Last time your fight fell through due to medical circumstances. Are there any updates and is there a plan to meet him in the ring again sometime soon?

NV: It seems as though these problems are still present. He is not allowed to box anywhere outside of Germany. Maybe he could fight Haye, but it is very unlikely that Haye will want to fight in Germany. But as I understand this medical issue cannot be completely cured, so this poses a problem for everyone.

VS: Out of all your competition in your entire career, who hit you the hardest?

NV: You know, I canít really say. Nobody really hit me too hard, nothing that I would remember. Everyone was good and hard hitting.

VS: On another note, how is poker going for you? I know you were planning on going far in this gameÖ

NV: Very interesting game. I would love to devote more time to it. It requires a lot of time and devotion to learn the game on a more professional level. Right now I just play as an enthusiast. I donít think I will become a professional any time soon.

VS: Since involved in boxing, have you noticed a lot of corruption in the sport?

NV: As far as I go, I canít say that there is much corruption. Both times I lost, there seemed to be a small degree of corruption. But then again, there need to be clear cut facts in order to blame anyone for anything, and I have neither. But I have seen cases, where a person clearly lost, and the public saw it that way as well, still their hand was raised in victory. So this is the so called corruption of professional boxing. It is show business. I have told my trainer before; that if I am a huge favorite in a fight and people end up betting on me, if the fight ends up being close my opponent will get the win no matter what. And thatís how it happened before. Itís not because my opposition, itís about the politics.

VS: Wladimir Klitschko has a fight coming up against Samuel Peter. After their bout, are there any plans in your future to call out Wlad?

NV: Until I am done repairing my body, I will avoid making any future plans. Anyway over time, I have learned that making distant plans is a pointless exercise.

VS: How do you prepare for a fight?

NV: As far as the fitness levels go, the preparation is always the same. When it comes to the opponent himself, there is a different technical approach to every boxing style. Every fight needs to be prepared for like itís your last, with full seriousness.

VS: How are you able to maintain such great stamina during your fights, being a huge heavy man?

NV: I havenít been running for a while. Itís been a while since we have learned that running can be substituted for other stamina improving techniques. We have been using yoga and similar breathing exercises, and with great success.

VS: I have read online and in some newspapers that you eat upwards of 3kg of meat a day. Is that anywhere near true?

NV: (Laughed). Before it was 1kg of fish for breakfast, now this. All I cay say is that it is very sad that there are people out there who actually believe such lies. They must have no idea what a kilogram of any food is. They need to try and eat some themselves and see what they believe is absurd. Itís bad that people actually write this, but even worse that there are believers. It is important not to take the internet and newspapers too seriously. It is imperative to seek out your needed information from multiple sources and then compare it. Then maybe you can filter out a fact. Why would someone say this? I obviously never said this. This is how a web of lies is born.

VS: Do you still play basketball sometimes, or no longer partake?

NV: I donít play basketball anymore in a real game setting. I do like to shoot a few hoops sometimes. Nothing too involved.

VS: Nikolai, how long is the recovery time for your specific surgery?

NV: I donít know and it really doesnít matter. There is the medical recovery time, and my personal/boxing recovery time. I will not get back into the ring until I am 100% ready. I donít want to fight unprepared like Toney did recently. I want to enter the ring in the shape required to win the fight.

VS: But you do see yourself back in the ring within a year or so?

NV: The boxing ring is definitely calling me and I miss it. We will see what happens. Ultimately, right now, I want to have a successful surgery and heal well. Then, I will get back into training so that I can perform in front of my fans yet again.

VS: Who do you think you will want to face when that time comes?

NV: Not possible to say. Things can change 360 degrees in half a year. Champions can retire; competitors become world champions, and much more. I donít know who will be there for me, but we will cross that bridge when we get there.

Article posted on 04.09.2010

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