Valuev Too Big For Barrett

October 8th, 2006 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr. Sharkie’s Machine - Saturday night at the Allstate Arena by Chicago, Monte Barrett (31-5, 17 KO’s) showed big heart in challenging gigantic, WBA Heavyweight Champion, Nicolay Valuev (45-0, 33 KO’s). Maybe if Barrett had a better sling shot, he might’ve slain the mighty Goliath that is Valuev. Instead, Valuev won this sloppily fought contest by TKO in the 11th round after Barrett was floored a few times and ran out of gas.

Though Valuev is very large and thick as a tree, his power is questionable. He managed to hit the much smaller Barrett several times without knocking him down in many of the earlier rounds. Either that or Barrett has a hell of a chin! But even blocking Valuev’s punches can push you backwards from the mass alone. Barrett was valiant but lacked the discipline to out box and beat the giant Champion. It took 11 rounds for Valuev to accomplish a KO victory over Barrett. It wasn’t pretty.

Both guys fought a sloppy fight. Barrett was throwing wild overhand punches and then finding himself off balance after each swing. Valuev rarely used his jab and moved in slow motion, leaving him unable to catch Barrett when he was often off balance. Barrett was big on heart but small on strategy. He winged his punches widely, instead of throwing them straight up the middle as his corner was insisting. Short straight punches. Barrett didn’t throw them.

Valuev could have made a shorter night of it if he’d have cut the ring off and cornered Barrett and then pummeled him into submission. But he didn’t. Barrett was brave enough, and at times, tried to work his way inside and take away the big man’s range. But he was not consistent.

The first half of the fight went back and forth with Barrett winning a few and Valuev winning a few back.

At times, Barrett looked capable of being the better inside fighter but perhaps under the visual imposition of Valuev, resorted to instinct instead of common boxing sense. Monte also left his defensive at home for this fight and consequently, after taking some jumbo sized sloppy punches, ran out of gas in the late rounds and fell prey to the Russian giant. Barrett went down in the eighth from a clean Valuev left hook and though he got up, he was starting to crumble.

In the tenth round, Barrett was getting tagged frequently enough to endanger his long-term health. In the eleventh, Barrett got staggered on the inside and collapsed straight down. It was ruled a slip, but it was a knock down. Barrett got up woozy. Valuev landed another punch that put him down. Barrett got up even woozier. Valuev attacked again, and again Monte went down and got back up to beat the count.

The ref could’ve stopped it then—but he let it continue. Suddenly, Barrett’s trainer, James Bashir, stepped in and stopped the fight. It was the right move. Barrett had nothing left. Bashir saved his fighter from what might have ended his career.

To his credit, Barrett showed a hell of a chin and desire to win in this fight but watching Barrett’s mistakes made me wonder if James Toney would have been able to get in close to Valuev and win the boxing match with superior infighting skills. Of course, that would depend on who the Judges were and well, that’s a whole other bag of chips.

Valuev won this fight because of the combination of his great size and Barrett’s inability to fight smarter. Compared to the other three recognized HW Champions, Wladimir Klitschko (IBF Champ), Oleg Maskaev (WBC Champ), and Sergei Liahkovich (WBO Champ), Valuev doesn’t loom as a serious threat based on what I saw Saturday night.

Klitschko, who’s also a large man, is too athletic and would out box, out punch and probably knock Valuev out with clean power punches. Liahkovich, a lanky, athletic boxer, would win with speedy reflexes and jab his way to a Unanimous Decision win. The stocky Maskaev is slow, but he’s faster than Valuev and that would play greatly in deciding that contest. Maskaev would time Valuev carefully and then batter him with his vicious lead rights and left hooks. But who really ever knows in a division where one punch can end things?

These HW Champions need to fight each other. I’m sick of having four Champions. When you have four, you really have none. The word Champion means the best of the best and there can really only be ONE. Will the HW Champions fight each other? I sure as hell hope so. If promoters want to reinvigorate interest in the HW division, there’s no better way than a HW Tournament to do it.

Though he beat a fairly decent HW in Monte Barrett, Valuev was unimpressive in terms of Championship level boxing skills. Against a slightly better boxer with decent power, Valuev will have problems as big as he is. Valuev is slow and easy to hit, if he weren’t so big (standing over seven feet tall, weighing 325-pounds), his chances would be small in the division. For
Valuev, cautious match making would be the key to holding his title for any significant period of time.

Some interesting American turf fights for Valuev would include top contenders like Sam Peter, Hasim Rahman, Lamon Brewster, Jameel Mc Cline or even Shannon Briggs.

For me, the jury is still out on Nicolay Valuev, who remains the WBA Champion. Let’s see who he fights next.

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Article posted on 08.10.2006

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