Rewind to the first quarter of 2007, and the biggest heavyweight title fight that could be made was a clash between reigning IBF champ Wladimir Klitschko and current WBA champ Nikolai Valuev. At the time, behemoth Valuev, all seven feet of him, was sporting a 46-0 record and, with co-promoter Don King guiding him, the Russian colossus, aged 33, was closing in on heavyweight legend Rocky Marciano’s untouched 49-0 ledger.
The younger Klitschko brother, 31 at the time, and just six wins removed from his crushing stoppage loss to Lamon Brewster, was just getting into the groove of the long reign of dominance he is famous for (2006 to 2015 as ruling heavyweight champ). And Wlad was desperate to get a unification showdown on. Wladimir, 48-3 at this time, wasn’t interested in a fight with David Haye in the slightest, while Tyson Fury – who would dethrone Wladimir in November of 2015 – had not even turned pro yet.
No, the big fight (big as in important as well as big as in the physical dimensions of the two fighters; the gargantuan Valuev in particular) was Klitschko Vs. Valuev.
But it never happened.
Another in the list of heavyweight showdowns that could’ve/should’ve/would’ve happened, Klitschko-Valuev might not rank alongside Lewis-Bowe and, more recently, Fury-Usyk, as major disappointments, but plenty of us wanted to see this fight all the same. And when it comes to who would have won and how, this is still a subject of interest.
As we know, Wlad had yet to reach his peak in March/April of 2007, while Valuev was, looking back, as good as he was ever going to get. That said, no man ever managed to chop down Valuev; Nikolai retiring with a 50-2(34) record in late 2009, this after losing on points to Haye.
Would Klitschko have taken Valuev down had he got the fight he wanted in 2007?
As it turned out, Valuev never matched Marciano’s 49-0 ledger, much less did he beat it. On April 14 of 2007, when Wlad was calling him out, Valuev was beaten on points by Ruslan Chagaev (Chagaev eventually losing to Wlad in a unification clash, this in 2009).
So, the Klitschko-Valuev fight was done. It was old news. No longer an item. But again, who would have won, and most crucially, how, had the two collided in the spring of 2007?
Back then, this writer was lucky enough to speak with “Dr. Steel Hammer,” and all he could talk about was a fight with Valuev.
“Nikolai actually has two promoters. He has his German promoter Wilfred Sauerland and he has Don King,” Wlad told me back then. “So this is a very difficult job, getting this fight made. But enough talking, let’s get it on! In this sport, it’s hard. There are many ‘politicians’ involved and it’s hard to make a deal. King aims to support Valuev as he breaks [Rocky] Marciano’s record.
“But if we do fight, Nikolai’s size would pose some problems. Maybe. Yes and no. Actually, finding sparring partners to emulate his style would prove very difficult, in fact almost impossible. This is no easy fight. He’s the biggest dude ever in boxing! But being so big can lead to weaknesses. I don’t want to talk about those things now, because I want to use them in the ring.”
Talk about an intriguing fight. One that, as we know, got away from us.
All these years later, and who do YOU think would have won had Wlad and Valuev rumbled in the spring or the summer of 2007?