"The Beast From The East" - Closing In On "The Rock's" 49-0 Record

06.09.06 - By James Slater: With his now 44-0 record, Russia's huge Nikolai Valuev is closing on Rocky Marciano's greatest claim to fame. More than anything else, "The Rock" is legendary due to the fact that he retired as champion, after never having lost a single fight. For fifty years his fine record has stood - unmatched by any of the heavyweight rulers that followed him..

But now, with the seven foot tall "Beast From The East" rapidly closing in on the landmark 49-0, Rocky's milestone is in danger of being equalled - or even surpassed. Not since Larry Holmes was 48-0 back in 1985, has a heavyweight champ got as close to Rocky's legendary achievement. With a mere five more wins Valuev will match Marciano's numbers, while six more victories will better them. Can he do it?

It all comes down to the quality of his opposition. His next defence is against Monte Barrett, and strong indications suggest a bout with England's Matt Skelton will follow the October 7th date . With all due respect to these two boxers, I can't see them ruining Nikolai's chances of putting himself in the history books (although, to be fair, one can never write off a man in possession of the immense physical strength that belongs to Skelton). That would still call for another three wins to tie with Rocky's record, and another four to top it. At some point Valuev will surely have to face a test as stiff as is available, against someone who would be favoured to defeat him - someone like, Wladimir Klitschko, or maybe James Toney conqueror, Samuel Peter. But IF he manages to get past such a prospectively tough fight, he will then more than likely go back down a notch when picking the quality of contenders to face. This will give him an excellent chance of rewriting boxing history. Two more wins will see him neck and neck with the beloved Marciano, while three more triumphs will more than likely earn him ring immortality. It has taken this long for anyone to come this close to breaking the record (with the exception of Holmes, of course) therefore it figures that if Valuev does break it, it will be many years before someone comes along and goes one better again.

But this is jumping the gun. After all, six fights is a long time in boxing these days. And anything can happen in the sport, especially amongst the big men. Still, Rocky's record is within reach for the huge man from Russia. But, what if he does get to 50-0? Will it count amongst the boxing historians? Many will no doubt point out that Valuev is not the undisputed heavyweight champion - as Marciano was. He only holds a version of the title, therefore will he have ultimate acceptance and credibility, or will his achievement be looked upon as a mere imitation of history making? ( At this point I would like to make clear that even if Valuev does either equal or break Rocky's record, I would not for one minute suggest he is a better fighter than the awesome Marciano was). At the moment, only having won the WBA belt, Valuev, were he to reach 50-0, would not have done so as the "real" heavyweight king. But, if he were to defeat Oleg Maskaev, the new WBC champion - AND IBF ruler Wladimir Klitschko, he would have to be accepted as the true and undisputed champion. And even though all his successful defences would not have come while boxing as the undisputed king, he would nevertheless retire as such (presuming, of course, that Nikolai, having got to 50-0, would see that fighting on and running the risk of losing would be an extremely foolish act). And Rocky's record is not for number of successful defences made by a heavyweight champion - it is simply for having retired unbeaten as one. If Valuev does as I've said, and then retires, he will have done just as Rocky did - go out as the undisputed champ, having not one single blotch on his record.

It's in no way a certainty yet, but it just might be that a seven foot giant from Russia is the guy who breaks boxing's most famous record!

Article posted on 06.09.2006

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