Boxing promoter Don King believes the World Boxing Association must strip Ruslan Chagaev of any claim to its heavyweight championship after the Finnish Boxing Federation reviewed blood tests and refused to allow Chagaev to participate in Saturday’s match against WBA champion Nikolai “Giant Russian” Valuev in Helsinki. “Unfortunately for Ruslan Chagaev, he has suffered from a number of different medical maladies that have prevented him from participating in matches since at least 2003,” King said..
“Nobody was more familiar with his medical history than the boxer and his promoter, but they still refused to submit to multiple requests for blood tests from the Finnish Boxing Federation until late in the week before Saturday’s match. This was a risk they should not have taken. It resulted in the cancellation of a contest for the WBA heavyweight championship.”
Rumors have swirled regarding Chagaev’s health since at least 2003 when blood tests forced Chagaev to be taken off a card in Australia headlined by Kostya Tszyu vs. Jesse James Leija.
Chagaev’s German-based promoter, Universum, claims their fighter recovered from Hepatitis B in 2006, but the Finnish Boxing Federation, under whose rules Saturday’s match were governed, refused to allow the contest to take place in their jurisdiction for undisclosed medical reasons.
Chagaev won the WBA heavyweight championship by handing then-champion Valuev his first loss in 46 fights on April 14, 2007. While Valuev hasn’t lost since-and in February 2008 won a title eliminator for the right to face Chagaev in a rematch-the Uzbeki has yet to receive medical clearance to be licensed.
The rematch was to have first taken place on May 31, 2008, but Chagaev pulled out with what was described as a protracted virus infection. (In addition, Chagaev was unable to appear in a previously scheduled heavyweight unification match in September 2007 against then-World Boxing Organization titleholder Sultan Ibragimov due to undisclosed medical reasons only described by Universum as “an acute inflammation of the body.”)
Chagaev vs. Valuev II was re-scheduled for July 5, 2008, but Chagaev suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon 10 days prior to the fight on June 26. After discussions, the WBA announced revised rules whereby a titleholder can be considered “champion in recess” due to medical reasons for up to a year after sustaining a recognized injury. Hence, Valuev vs. Chagaev II was scheduled for the third time to take place last Saturday (May 30) in Helsinki.
“I wanted the WBA to strip Chagaev after the Achilles injury,” King said. “The WBA said ‘let’s make him champion in recess’ and I saw that they were simply trying to do everything they could to help this man. It wasn’t my first choice, but I understood it.”
“Now it is my job as co-promoter of Nikolai Valuev with my partners at Sauerland Event to point out that the WBA ruled Chagaev had until June 26 to face Valuev, and he did not accomplish this. The Finnish Boxing Federation rejected Chagaev for medical reasons, and the rules of the WBA clearly state that they recognize and respect the rules of the local governing authority wherever a match may take place-in this instance, Finland.”
King added, “I applaud the Finnish Commission for standing up for the health and welfare of the fighters. It goes beyond money; they chose health before wealth. I believe the WBA will do the right thing as well by announcing Nikolai Valuev as its undisputed heavyweight champion.”
“I don’t believe the WBA will ignore the objective, empirical proof presented by the Finnish Boxing Federation.”
King Calls for WBA to Declare Valuev Its Undisputed Champ
NEW YORK—Boxing promoter Don King has asked the World Boxing Association to declare Nikolai “Giant Russian” Valuev its undisputed heavyweight champion after Saturday’s match between Valuev and WBA “champion in recess” Ruslan Chagaev at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland, was cancelled. “The World Boxing Association should act swiftly and unequivocally to designate Nikolai Valuev as its undisputed heavyweight champion,” King said from New York just before boarding a plane bound for Helsinki where he will make his case in person. “Nikolai has been patient in waiting for Chagaev to become medically fit to fight. We applaud the WBA for making every effort to allow Chagaev to return, but it is clear now that we must move on.”
Valuev and then-WBA heavyweight champion Chagaev were scheduled to meet on July 5, 2008, but Chagaev was unable to fight after rupturing his left Achilles’ tendon. The WBA subsequently named Chagaev champion in recess and allowed Valuev and John Ruiz to fight for the WBA heavyweight championship on Aug. 30, 2008—a fight Valuev won by decision.
King is scheduled to arrive in Helsinki on Saturday morning at 8:50.
Chagaev-Valuev: Entire Card Called Off
The rematch between WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev and Ruslan Chagaev has been called off after Chagaev was unable to fulfill the Finnish boxing federation´s medical requirements. Finnish law prevents disclosure of any further private health medical information. “Unfortunately, we have no other chance but to call the whole show off,” Sauerland Event General Manager Chris Meyer said. “Our top priority is Nikolai´s health and it could not be guaranteed.” Added Valuev: “I would have loved to make this fight but given those circumstances it is not possible. The possibility of a replacement opponent was explored but with less than thirty hour’s notice arrangements could not be completed with Kali Meehan or Lamon Brewster. The entire card has been cancelled.