Daivd Haye vs Nikolai Valuev: Another David And Goliath Or Can Goliath Win This Time?
By Paul McCreath - On Saturday November 7 in Nuremberg Germany Nicolai Valuev will put his WBA heavyweight title belt on the line against former WBA, WBC and WBO cruiserweight champion David Haye. Most fans will not be all that interested in the discredited WBA belt nor will they be expecting a barnburner of a fight. Still this is an interesting match because the winner will be in the position to challenge one of the Klitschko brothers later next year in what could be a very big money fight if we get a decisive winner in this one. It is an important fight for the heavyweight division. Let us take a look at some of the factors that could help decide who wins this upcoming bout.
Age-David Haye has a good edge here. He is 29 and in his prime. Valuev is 36 and may be nearing the end of a long career. He has not looked good in his most recent fights but you have to ask has he ever really looked good?
Experience - There is no comparison. Valuev had been a pro for about 9 years before Haye even started. He has had 51 pro fights to 23 for Haye. Nicolai has been involved in 10 bouts that were either world title fights or eliminators, all at heavyweight.. David has never met a top heavyweight and fought only twice for the cruiserweight titles. His lone experience at heavyweight is composed of two easy tune-up type fights against Monte Barrett and Tomasz Bonin. Both Valuev and Haye have only one loss.
Size and Strength - While I don't believe as some do that David Haye is too small to compete as an effective top heavyweight he is really up against a huge barrier in this case. David stands 6 foot 3 and weighs around 220. Valuev is over 7 feet and around 320 pounds. That will be a very difficult handicap to overcome.
Punching Power - It is generally accepted that Haye is the harder hitter of the two but the difference may be smaller than most people think. We don't really know how well David's power will carry up with the big guys. He had excellent power as a cruiser and took out Bonin and Barrett easily enough but knocking out a top rated fighter is quite another matter. We just don't know what will happen when Haye connects with a top gun. We do know that Valuev cannot stop highly rated fighters. They all go the distance, probably because Nicolai is too slow to catch them rather than a lack of power. He did show back in 2006 against Barrett that he has power when he can land it although he certainly does not punch his weight. I give the advantage in power to Haye.
Defense-David is not all that hard to hit .In spite of his skills and speed he has been knocked down more than once. This is not all due to a faulty chin. Valuev on the other hand is hard to hit mostly because he is so tall that he is hard to reach and he keeps his opponents out of range with his long jab. He takes a lot of punches on his arms. Advantage Valuev.
Technical Skills- David Haye has a big edge in this category. He is fast and a pretty sound boxer overall .Valuev has few skills beyond that long jab. Without his immense size he would be an ordinary club fighter. There is one troubling fact about Haye's skills. His high rating in this area is based primarily on what he accomlished at cruiser in title fights against Mormeck and Maccarinelli. Looking back now those wins don't look quite as good. Mormeck was aging and had shown serious stamina problems in two earlier bouts against O'Neil Bell and he has never fought again since the Haye fight. Maccarinelli has since been KOd twice by unproven fighters. While David was probably the best cruiser in the world at that time how good was that really?
Stamina- There were questions about David Haye's stamina early in his career but it appears now that it was more a case of inexperience and poor pacing. Valuev has very good stamina. With his size advantage he may wear Haye down in the later rounds.
Durability- There was early talk of a weak chin with David but again as stated above it was likely only inexperience or maybe weak defense. He should be fine but Valuev is like a rock. He has never been off his feet. His head has been compared to a Volkswagen. The advantage goes to the big guy here.
Motivation- Normally you would think that as the younger challenger Haye would be more motivated than the aging Valuev but Haye may have changed this usual scenario. His pre-fight antics that are often a bit over the top may have angered Valuev. You know what they say about waking a sleeping giant. Nicolai is usually thought of as a fairly gentle soul but he can be aroused. We have all heard the story of how he beat up a parking attendant who had a dispute with Valuev's wife. What will happen if he comes into the ring riled up? I think we can call this category even. They both want to win really badly. That big payday against one of the Klitschkos is motivation enough.
Venue- This could be very important. Valuev is a Russian but he fights most of the time in Germany where he is very popular. The fans will be behind him while Haye is the visitor who is none too popular in some circles. Remember too that when it is close the house fighter often gets the edge from the judges. This will be a big hurdle for Haye to overcome.
My Prediction - While both fighters have enough power to stop the other I think a KO either way is unlikely. Most Valuev fights are pretty much the same. They are dull and boring with little action other than Valuev's jab and his opponent hitting his arms. They normally go the distance and end in a close disputed decision with Valuev the winner. I see little reason to believe that this one will be any different. Although the bookies have Haye as a -200 favorite the last time I looked and they are usually right you have to consider Valuev a very live underdog. I am going to stick my neck out and predict a Valuev victory over 12 rounds by the usual disputed decision.