Who Will Be Valuev’s First Defense?

22.12.05 - By Geoffrey Ciani: Since winning the WBA heavyweight championship from John Ruiz less than a week ago, rumours have been circulating throughout the boxing world as to who the newly crowned champion, Nicolay Valuev, will face in his first title defense. Two names are frequently mentioned in the course of such discussions: Andrew Golota and Evander Holfyfield.

On the surface, neither seems deserving of a title shot, and rightfully so. After all, Andrew Golota had been destroyed in less than a minute in his most recent outing, and Holyfield hasn’t won a fight since….well, I can’t really remember? Perhaps it was when Old Man Holyfield squeaked out a technical decision over Hasim Rahman after Holyfield nailed him with an “unintentional” head butt that caused Rahman’s head to swell up like the elephant man? I can’t really remember, and it doesn’t really matter – the fact is, neither Holyfield nor Golota seem deserving of a title shot at this time.

In the case of Holyfield, the question shouldn’t be whether or not he deserves a title shot, but rather, whether or not he should ever be fighting again – period! The writing’s been on the wall for this one for some time: Evander Holyfield is a shot fighter! It would be disgraceful if he ever fought again, forget if he ever fought for a title again. Not only has Holyfield done absolutely nothing to be deemed worthy of a title shot, he’s looked so awful that it’s crystal clear to boxing fans world-wide that his time in this sport has expired.

Holyfield needs to get out of boxing before he seriously hurts himself, and the idea that he actually wants to fight the seven foot tall “Beast from the East” only goes to illustrate that he probably already has hurt himself. I mean, does anyone besides Holyfield seriously give him any chance in hell of beating Valuev? I know that I don’t, and it has nothing to do with me being overly impressed by the gigantic champion who looks more like a circus freak show than a heavyweight prize fighter. The fact is, Holyfield can no longer do much of anything in a boxing ring. He has no stamina and is incapable of maintaining anything close to the activity level needed to put on a world class performance. In fact, I reckon there are dozens of journeymen in the ranks who could defeat this formerly great champion.

In the case of Golota, things are a bit more complicated. However, be that as it may, it’s still pretty clear that Golota isn’t worthy of what would amount to be – a fourth title shot in a row! One would be hard-pressed to make a case for Golota in light of him being literally destroyed in his last encounter against WBO champion, Lamon Brewster. However, at least in Golota (as opposed to Holyfield), we should get what turns out to be an entertaining bout; Golota bouts rarely lack in entertainment value.

Golota only fought once in all of 2005, and that was for a grand total of 53 seconds that Andrew would probably prefer to forget. This was his third title shot in a row. The previous year, he had fought IBF champion Chris Byrd to a draw and he lost a very controversial decision against then-WBA champion, John Ruiz. In light of that, an argument could be made that Golota deserves something (I had him beating Byrd 116-112 and beating Ruiz 114-111), although, it would be a fairly weak argument when one considers his most recent debacle against Brewster.

This begs the question, is there any reason to believe these rumours are true? And sadly, the answer to that question is “ABSOLUTELY!”

Now that Valuev is the WBA champion, King has some control over his future….or so I’m led to believe. I’m not precisely sure of the exact extent of King’s involvement with Valuev, but it seems reasonable to believe that King will do everything in his power to recycle all of his past contenders for bouts with the newly crowned WBA champ. And if this is what’s about to happen regarding the WBA championship, you can be sure that either Golota or Holyfield will get the first crack at Valuev. After all, Holyfield, despite the fact he has nothing left, is still a big name, and Golota might very well still be the most marketable fighter in boxing’s most prestigious division. Based on that, I’m banking on the fact that we will see Golota vs. Valuev sometime in 2006.

The strangest thing about all of this is, despite the fact that Golota isn’t deserving of a title shot and despite the fact he’s choked in all of his big fights, this is a fight he stands a great chance of winning. Historically, Golota has had trouble with punchers, but rarely has he had trouble with boxers who don’t pack a great punch; Valuev fits the latter mold. In Valuev, we have a slow giant, with decent boxing skills who lacks true power – this guy is tailor-made for someone like Golota. Despite Golota’s advanced age, and despite his most recent fiasco against Brewster, this is a bout I believe he would probably win.

An argument can be made that Golota was never outboxed during his career as a professional fighter. Many people (myself included) felt he was deserving of victory over both Byrd and Ruiz. He was also thoroughly outboxing both Michael Grant and Riddick Bowe (twice) before throwing those bouts away, and the other three times he lost, he was overwhelmed by brute power against Tyson, Lewis, and Brewster. Indeed, this leads me to believe that this is a very winnable fight for Golota.

Will Valuev’s first title defense be against Golota or Holyfield? I suspect that this will be the case. And I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see Golota finally win a championship. Andrew Golota, WBA heavyweight champion of the world? It might just happen.

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Article posted on 23.12.2005

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