Valuev: Sadly, He's Everything The Critics Said He Was

08.10.06 - By Alden "The Kid" Chodash: With the exception of the Klitschko brothers, there hasn't been a good history of heavyweights over 6'5. Jess Willard, the Pottawatomie Giant, proved to be nothing more than a mediocre "white dope" exposed when Jack Dempsey blasted him out in three. Primo Carnera, the second heavyweight champion over 6'5, pulled boxing down to an all-time low according to The Ring magazine founder Nat Fleischer. Nicolai Valuev, setting a record for tallest heavyweight kingpin the sport has ever known, has just proven to us on Saturday (versus sluggish, and outmatched Monte Barrett) that he doesn't even match Carnera and Willard's limited ability as a giant heavyweight titleholder.

The skeptics of Valuev have stated this from the very beginning of his infamous title reign. We probably chose to ignore the skepticism based on the fact that the majority of the heavyweight landscape is traipsed by uninteresting types. Face it, the other heavyweight titleholders don't hold even a quarter of the invincibility that a popular champion should. That's a perfect excuse to ignore Valuev's technical deficiencies and see if he rises to the occasion against a fighter who never rose to the occasional in any major heavyweight contest, Monte Barrett. We were wrong.

The under-card consisted of two excellent light-heavyweights, Tomasz Adamek and Paul Briggs, who last year engaged in a rousing twelve round war that resulted in a razor thin victory for Tomasz Adamek. The highly anticipated rematch was under way and midway through the opening round a short left hook shot suddenly, and surprisingly dropped Adamek to the canvas for the first time in his career. Adamek, to his credit, fought back well and would have been easily awarded the round if it weren't for the knockdown. Adamek started to really open up in rounds two and three to even the battle, firing crisp and flashy combinations and moving while not giving Briggs a chance at a retaliation assault. Briggs in the fourth started to open up with his right hand that, as he found out, couldn't miss Adamek's chin. Briggs, seeing an advantage, stuck with that shot which limited Adamek's work-rate. Briggs took the fifth as well with his right hand alone. After a near even seventh, Adamek asserted himself in the eighth and in the ninth he dropped Briggs illegally with a low blow. Briggs got time to recover but when the action resumed, Adamek wobbled Briggs for the first time in all of their twenty rounds of combat against each other with a looping right hand. Briggs covered up but was obviously hurt. Briggs, to his credit, actually mounted a little counter attack on an advancing Adamek and the traded for the rest of the round until another low blow from Adamek stopped the action and gave him a possibly critical point deduction. Briggs found a way to avoid Adamek's power in the tenth and eleventh but in the twelfth, a round that could have decided the fight, Briggs let Adamek out work him. The verdict was out when Michael Buffer announced a majority decision in favor of Tomasz Adamek in a bout that really could of went either way. A third fight is possible for Adamek though there is much more options for him, including an eventual tangle with Clinton Woods or maybe Glen Johnson.

From the fireworks displayed in the first fight, it was obvious that the main event had an especially difficult task of trying to steal the show though for a moment in the first round it had a chance. Barrett, early in the fight landed an awkward looping right hand that buckled Valuev's legs and, almost immediately, Valuev came back to nearly drop Barrett with a hard right hand. After another right hand hurt Barrett, Monte stuck to a terribly boring strategy that consisted of throwing a wild right hand and clinching. Barrett, for a moment in the fourth, was in control as he summoned up the gumption to fire away at the giant in close quarters. From then on it was all Valuev. Though he wasn't hurting Barrett with his right hands he landed them frequently and was breaking down the smaller man. The first knockdown was registered in round eight when a short right hand dropped Barrett to the canvas. In the eleventh, a tremendous right hand with all 339 pounds behind it devastatingly dropped the increasingly lesser man. The referee surprisingly resumed the action to let a hard left drop Barrett for the second time in the round. The referee unwisely let the fight go on until James Bashir, Barrett's trainer, showed mercy in ending the one-sided slaughter. Television commentator Larry Merchant correctly stated that stamina was the only impressive feature in Valuev's repertoire.

Another setback for the heavyweight division and a disappointment for the boxing fans who were expecting more than just a unique "figure" as heavyweight champion.

Alden "The Kid" Chodash is the newest and youngest member of the Boxing Writers Association of America as well as webmaster of

Article posted on 08.10.2006

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