Vitali Klitschko-Nicolai Valuev: Better Late Than Never?

By James Slater: Many fight fans thought they’d seen the last of former WBA heavyweight ruler Nicolai Valuev. The tallest heavyweight titlist in history was last seen losing a reasonably close, somewhat boring decision to the now-retired David Haye, and “The Russian Giant” reportedly went into politics shortly afterwards.

Not only that, but the 38-year-old underwent shoulder surgery a year or so again, and though the surgery was reportedly a success, he has not been talking boxing since. But now, in a news story that has been picked up from The Den newspaper, there is talk of Valuev coming back to face WBC king Vitali Klitschko in Ukraine next year.

“There is a real opportunity for the Klitschko brothers to fight in Ukraine, and such negotiations are already underway,” K2 representative Aleksander Krasyuk said. “The battle could be held next year, perhaps before Euro 2012, Nikolay Valuev seems now the most likely opponent.”

Vitali Vs. Valuev, if it happened, would almost certainly attract a lot of attention. A step up from fighting a cruiserweight (as Vitali did in his last outing, against a brave but totally outgunned Tomasz Adamek), Vitali would perhaps have a test on his hands. We have no idea how much Valuev has left to offer, or how serious he still is about boxing, but it should be noted that the giant took no real punishment in any of his 53 pro bouts.

Sure to be rusty and slow due to not having fought since the Haye fight of Nov. 2009 (Valuev was never close to being fast when at his peak), Valuev would likely need a tune-up before going in with “Dr. Iron Fist.” Should he come through that okay, however, a Valuev challenge of the 40-year-old champ would, at the very least, have curiosity value (as was the case for many of Valuev’s bouts).

Would Klitschko be able to become the first man to KO the 7’2” behemoth? Or would Valuev’s size and strength prove to give Vitali his most challenging bout in years?

The Klitschkos wanted very much to fight Valuev back when he had the WBA belt. Despite their best efforts, though, the unification fight eluded them. Valuev has nothing to offer now but his marquee name. Will this be enough for the fight that should’ve happened in 2008 or 2009 to go ahead in 2012?

Article posted on 04.11.2011

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