Valuev highly focused despite 11-inch height advantage

12.04.07 - Two days before his first mandatory title defense, undefeated WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev today came face-to-face with Uzbek challenger Ruslan Chagaev. It was a peaceful encounter, though, as both camps tried to play down the importance of the Russian Giant´s enormous 11-inch height advantage. "It has not affected our preparations at all," Valuev´s coach Manuel Gabrielian said at the official press conference. "Niko is used to fighting smaller opponents. It won´t make a difference for him." ..

Valuev (47-0), who is slowly but surely closing in on Rocky Marciano´s dream record (49-0), is happy to see the back of a long, yet very successful tune-up period. "We started right after the fight against McCline," he stated. "We really took a lot of time. I am in perfect shape and ready." Manager Wilfried Sauerland also praised the form of his star fighter. "He is lighter than in most of his recent bouts which proves how intense his training has been. I am sure he will win the fight." Sauerland added it was too early to discuss a potential unification battle against Klitschko. "First he has to beat Chagaev who is a strong fighter. Then we´ll see what happens."

Valuev´s co-promoter Don King arrived just in time from the airport to greet the German media. "It is going to be a great fight," vowed King. "Chagaev is a formidable challenger but there is no question that Nikolai will win. He is the eighth wonder of the world. He is a giant with a giant heart. Wilfried Sauerland and I will prevail."

Meanwhile, Chagaev insisted he was unfazed by the tremendous height difference. "Big or small - that does not matter. I have the ambition to become world champion. It will be a tough fight but I want to win." Coach Michael Timm, who would climb on boxes to give his fighter a feel for Valuev´s size in training, praised Chagaev´s sparring activities. "It was like having an NBA team in practice," he joked. "But Ruslan did very well against the tall and heavy opponents." Chagaev´s promoter Klaus-Peter Kohl believes the pressure is on Valuev. "It is his first mandatory defence. That is always something special," said the Universum boss. "It will be a great fight."

The duel will be aired in 64 countries on all continents. On the undercard, Oleg Platov will defend his IBF Intercontinental Title against Australia´s Colin Wilson. Yoan Pablo Hernandez, Francesco Pianeta and René Dettweiler will also be in action.

Article posted on 12.04.2007

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