Nikolay Valuev: Should He Be Compared To Marciano?

11.10.06 - By Luke White: Last weekend, Nikolay Valuev defended his WBA Heavyweight title for the second time in Chicago, Illinois. His opponent was Monte “two gunz” Barrett, a totally overmatched fighter from the get go, and who never really had chance against the gargantuan Russian. Nevertheless, even in victory, Valuev proved to me that he has litle in the way of boxing skills, or even power. After twelve rounds of clinching, poor punching and a nap in eighth round, I was finally asking, where are you John Ruiz? From round one, we knew the fight was going to be a sleeper. Early on, not much happened and it seemed I was scoring rounds based on clinches instead of punches.

Barrett’s wild overhand rights reminded me of the old video game punch out, where the fighter would jump in the air to take a crack at his opponent. While they seemed initially to be effective against Valuev, however, they clearly weren't doing any real damage to Valuev's thick skull.

Another problem, it seemed, is that Barrett was horrible at punching upwards at Valuev, often losing much of his power in the process of one of his wild arcing swings. It didn't help, of course, that Barrett was unable to throw on straight punch all fight long. Though, the fight did become more and more exciting by the 8th round, as finally Valuev decided to start punching and eventually over powered the exhausted Barrett.

Although, nearly no one would disagree that Barrett is more deserving than Owen Beck (who came in 1-2 of his last 3 fights, with a knockout loss to Barrett) was in Valuev’s first defense. It seemed odd to me that Barrett would be a qualified challenger for Valuev, considering that Valuev had already beaten Owen Beck, who also not highly ranked at the time. You would assume that Valuev should have fought a higher ranked opponent than Barrett, maybe someone like James Toney.

For me, this latest fight proved very little about the legitimacy of Valuev’s claim to the Heavyweight title. Many want to compare Valuev to Marciano, mainly because of the big Russian's inflated 45-0 record. It's hard to believe that Valuev is within 5 fights of breaking the great Marciano's record. Frankly, I would have a difficult time even comparing Valuev's greatness to that of Joe Mesi, who currently has a record of 33-0. I can see some good things in Valuev, I really can. He's got a right hand, and he throws combinations, which is rare for a big fighter. Yet for him to be compared to immortals like Marciano, is way off as far as I'm concerned. However, if by chance, Valuev is able to unify the titles and have several worthwhile defenses along the way, then discussions about his place in history would be warranted. Until then, he’ll most likely continue his ride on the tomato can express.

Article posted on 12.10.2006

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