By Seth Green: WBA heavyweight champion Nikolay Valuev (50-1, 34 KO’s) will likely be facing WBC title holder Vitali Klitschko (37-2, 36 KO’s) in a unification bout later on in 2009 according to reports. The news has been confirmed by Sauerland, Valuev’s promotional company, and they’ve made contact with Vitali about the fight. Valuev said “I’ve talked to Vitaly on the phone recently and we agreed to meet each other in the ring.”
Vitali, 37, had been said to be looking at three possible opponents for his next bout with Valuev, David Haye and Chris Arreola being the three names on his agenda. It was thought that Haye, 28, would get the nod for the fight because of his interest in making a fight with Vitali. A fight with Valuev was thought to be a long shot because it would involve having to work out problems between Valuev’s promotional company and K2 East Promotions.
Valuev says that he is looking at fighting Vitali in September or possibly October. Vitali has also confirmed that the fight will be taking place, saying “Yes, it’s true. Nikolai has offered to fight and I’ve accepted the challenge.”
If this bout does go ahead and take place it will be huge for boxing and will bring in a lot of interest for the fight. Like with Vitali’s brother Wladimir Klitschko’s fight with Ruslan Chagaev this last weekend, most of the attention for the fight will take place in Europe where the 7-foot Valuev is a very popular fighter.
In the United States, Valuev isn’t appreciated nearly as much and it’s unclear how boxing fans will respond to this fight. On paper, this looks like an easy victory for the power punching 6’8” Vitali, who should be able to destroy the slow moving, weak punching Valuev within a few rounds. At best, Valuev might be able to labor through to the 6th round while absorbing terrible punishment.
However, the fight will still be an exciting one because of the size of the two fighters. Obviously, the fight is a little late in taking place, because Valuev looks to be slowing down as a fighter and doesn’t appear to have the same skills that he had three years ago when he was in his prime beating the likes of John Ruiz, Owen Beck and Monte Barrett. Recently, Valuev struggled to beat the 46-year-old Evander Holyfield in December, winning by a controversial 12 round majority decision in Switzerland.
Valuev appeared to lose the fight by at least a couple of rounds. Overall, Valuev looked bad in the fight and not like the same fighter he was earlier in his career. It was pretty clear from that performance that Valuev would be lucky to hold onto his title for another fight or two unless he was matched very carefully.
Vitali recently defeated Juan Carlos Gomez in his first defense of his WBC heavyweight title that he captured five months earlier in an 8th round stoppage of then champion Samuel Peter. The win over Peter was Vitali’s first fight in four years after retiring from boxing following a series of nagging injuries to his knee and back. What made the fight so special is how good Vitali looked, as if he had never left the sport.