Valuev vs Chagaev: Valuev needs to step it up!
(Nikolay Valuev, on left, seconds after dropping Owen Beck in the 3rd round) 11.04.07 - By Geoffrey Ciani: This Saturday, reigning WBA boxing champion Nikolay Valuev is slated to defend his title against undefeated challenger, Ruslan Chagaev. As a long-time fan of the heavyweight division, I canít help but admitting that Iím not especially excited for this one. Perhaps part of the problem is thatóever since Valuev won the titleóWBA title bouts havenít typically been televised in the US (his bout with Barrett notwithstanding).
Article posted on 12.04.2007
Luckily, unlike most of his previous defenses, this oneís going to be televised. Even still, my hunch is we are looking at a lackluster affair. I hope Iím wrong, and regardless, Iíll still be tuned in, but I think the biggest problem is the choice of opponents. Since winning the WBA boxing title from Ruiz, Valuev has defended his title three times. On the bright side, heís been activeóespecially for a heavyweight. On the dark side, successful defenses against Owen Beck, Monte Barrett, and Jameel McCline are hardly the type of wins that get boxing fans excited.
This trend of mediocre opposition appears to have no end, especially with the most recent choice of opponent, Ruslan Chagaev.
When is Valuev going to step it up and face a bigger challenge?
In fairness to Valuev, part of the problem might well be the WBA itself. After all, rightfully or not, Chagaev is the organizationís number one contender. To give you an idea of how questionable their rankings are, take a look for yourself. The following list was taken directly from the WBAís official website:
1. RUSLAN CHAGAEV (OC) UZB
2. RAY AUSTIN USA
3. SULTAN IBRAGIMOV RUS
4. SERGUEI LIAKHOVICH BEL
5. DAVARYLL WILLIAMSON USA
6. JOHN RUIZ USA
7. WLADIMIR VIRCHIS (EBU) UKR
8. MIKE MOLLO (LAC) USA
9. HASIM RAHMAN USA
10. TARAS BIDENKO (WBA I/C) UKR
11. ALEXANDER DIMITRENKO UKR
12. LAMON BREWSTER USA
13. KALI MEEHAN (PABA) AUS
14. JEAN FRANCOIS BERGERON (NABA) CAN
15. EVANDER HOLYFIELD USA
Am I the only one who thinks this list of top contenders sucks out loud? Ray Austin is ranked at number 2? For what? Getting knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko in a fight where Klitschko never even threw right hand? DaVaryll Williamson at number five? Mike Mollo at number eight? Evander Holyfield is in their top fifteen? Kali Meehan? I mean, this list is just ridiculous! Forget the fact that itís April and the list was last updated in February (which actually makes matters even worse), but does any boxing fan out there actually believe this list is in any way representative of the actual fifteen best boxing heavyweights in the world?
If there are any fans out there who agree with this top fifteen, Iíd be shocked and baffled, íless they happened to be on the WBA ranking committee.
In any case, the fight is this Saturday and I will undoubtedly tune in with hopes that my assessment is wrong. My suspicion is that Valuev will use his freakishly large size to his advantage and wear Chagaev down for a late round stoppage. Perhaps Chagaev will impress and somehow manage to pull off the upset? I certainly wouldnít write him off, as I believe Valuev is a giant waiting to be come crashing down; Iím just not sure Chagaev has the tools to expose him.
MSG has been doing a fine job picking up overseas fights that other networks have abandoned in recent months, and they deserve a ton of credit for this! We should be thankful that theyíre helping fill a void wherein fans are deprived the chance of seeing championship bouts from overseas. Hopefully this is a trend that will continue in the future, for there are too many fights that too many fans never get the chance to see.
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