Valuev - Beck: Will "The Russian Giant" Crush Beck?

02.06.06 - By Jeff Bastasini: Tomorrow night, the giant 7 ft, 320 lb, WBA heavyweight champion, Nikolay Valuev will defend his title against Owen Beck, 30, in Hanover, Germany. Valuev, 32, won the fight in controversial fashion, edging John Ruiz in a tough bout, which, as usual for a Ruiz bout, was marked by constant holding and wrestling on the inside. However, Valuev, 43-0, 31 KO's) did just enough to get the decision in the eyes of the judges, who were probably none too thrilled by the technique shown by either fighter. In Valuev's case, however, it's nothing new, since he's a fighter not known for having a pleasing fight style, despite his huge 7 ft frame.

Instead of knockout power, Valuev is noted for being a finesse fighter, mostly preferring to jab his opponents and throw in an occasional right hand. Beck (25-2, 18 KO's), while a dangerous puncher, is still unproven against quality opposition, having lost a decision to Ray Austin and by knockout to Monte Barrett, in 2005, both of which are the best fighters by far on his record.

Clearly, the losses cause serious doubt about Beck's future as a heavyweight contender, since he lost them back to back and looked out of his league in both bouts. However, the criticism that is leveled at Beck is nothing compared to what is being said about Valuev, in the boxing circles. For many people, Valuev can't seem to do anything right, as it appears that they would prefer that he live up to his huge size and punch like a monster instead of a mere mortal. However, rather than his critics accepting his limitations, he seems to take a huge amount of abuse, anywhere from comments made about his looks to even questioning of his courage. Having read a great deal of it, I don't quite understand it, for Valuev seems to be getting the most out of a body that doesn't seem to be made for boxing.

I mean, look at the guy, he's 7 feet tall and weighs over 300 lbs, yet he moves around the ring almost like a Giselle. So what if he doesn't punch with authority; he wins and that's all that counts, right? Granted, Valuev surely didn't look good against Ruiz or Larry Donald, his last two opponents, but from what I saw of the bouts, Valuev didn't appear to fight to the best of his capabilities. Clearly, he seemed to be hesitant, almost doubtful, with every punch he threw like he was expecting something bad to happen. Why he would do that against such light punching heavyweights like Ruiz and Donald, I have no idea.

However, what it does mean to me is, yes, he has the ability but he seems to suffer from a confidence problem, something that can be helped with the right trainer. Whether he ever gets that, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, with the huge investment that is being made in him by his people, I would hope that they would want to maximize his potential and get the most out of his ability. Look at it this way: if Valuev could develop his punching ability, even if it's only by a marginal amount, combined with his first class chin and his huge frame, he could hold onto his heavyweight title for up to 5 years or more, with a little luck. At 32, he appears youthful and well preserved for his age and, I would expect that he's got at least five good years left in his prime for which to learn and improve on his craft, if given the right training environment.

For his part, Beck will have his work cut out for him, as he will be outweighed by close to 80 lbs by Valuev, who weighed in at 320.7 lbs to Beck's 242.5, at today's weigh-in. Without a doubt, at 6'1" 1/2, Beck will have to get in close and try to apply constant pressure against Valuev and hope that he can either land something big or tire out Valuev. The latter may be easier said than done, for Valuev has excellent stamina for such a large boxer and rarely shows any signs of tiring, even in the late rounds. The same can't be said about Beck, however, as he seemed to tire badly in his loses to Austin and Barrett. Part of the problem, I think, was Beck's tendency to try too hard for a knockout in these fights, since he threw a lot of punches in the early rounds and seemed to be dragging and looking completely exhausted by the 7th and 8th.

If Beck can make adjustments against Valuev, he might be able to pull off the victory, for I personally think it would be foolhardy for him to attempt to try to stop Valuev, considering his reputation for having a great chin. Given Beck's small stature, the best strategy for him to follow, I think, would be for him to try and get inside and fire off quick four punch combinations and then quickly bounce outside to safety. If Beck can stick to this fight plan, he might be able to win by decision. However, it won't be easy, since Valuev will be firing off his left jab and straight right all night long, making it a painful task to try and get in range without catching a face full of glove.

By all accounts, this fight should be an easy fight for Valuev, who appears to hold all the advantages, with his size, chin, boxing ability and strength. Generally, all Valuev has to do is maintain his distance, concentrate on keeping his jab active and to remember to throw his right hand, something he seemed to forget to do against Ruiz. Given Beck's limited boxing ability, and size, he will be forced to come inside to try and mix it up, making him vulnerable for Valuev's right hand or uppercut. I can't see Beck making beyond the 9th round, for he'll tire out, as usual, and Valuev will connect with one of his decent right hands, thrown with just enough pop to get Beck out of there.

Article posted on 03.06.2006

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