Valuev vs Klitschko: Could This Be The Most Popular Fight In The Division?

24.12.05 - By Jeff Bastasini: With Nicolay Valuevís recent disputed majority decision win over John Ruiz, it has seemingly catapulted this once unknown Russian fighter from near obscurity to being one of the most talked about fighters in the heavyweight division, perhaps mostly thanks to the Circus side show aspect of his huge 7 ft, 320 pound frame, that dwarfs his opponents. Now, according to Don King, he wants Valuev to fight his next bout in the United States. So far, no one has been named as a possible opponent, but fighters, such as Andrew Golota, and Evander Holyfield, have been circulating in the rumor mill.

However, for me, Iím seriously hoping that King doesnít decide on taking the soft route for Valuev, as the public, no matter how gullible theyíve been in the past, wonít likely show much interest in a fight that could turn out to be an ugly one-sided mismatch.

So, out of all the possible heavyweight opponents that Valuev could be potentially matched with, thereís only one, in my opinion, that will bring the kind of excitement that the boxing public would be interested in seeing and thatís a fight against the knockout artist Wladimir Klitschko.

For one, the sight of both of these huge guys in the ring, would be like watching two giants go at in some kind of monster movie. Wladimir, who at 6í6,Ē would make this a record for having the two largest fighters in the ring at the same time. More than that, though, it would likely be exciting from start to finish, as Wladimir would be throwing his right hand bombs, while Valuev would be pushed into a slugging match, much like he was against Clifford Etienne when he came out firing missiles at Valuevís chin. That fight turned out to be one of Valuevís most exciting, as he knocked Etienne around the ring like a rag doll. From what I saw of the fight, it showed how dangerous Valuev can be when heís pushed hard by a fighter that is trying to take his head off, as Etienne clearly was on that night. By nature, Valuev is a nice guy, but when he's riled, as he was on that bout, he apparently has a mean streak, as he angrily took Etienne apart.

Wladimirís coming off of a tough brawl with the slugger Samuel Peter on September 24, 2005, that saw Wladimir being knocked down on three separate occasions, and ready to go in the 10th round, before rallying in rounds 11 & 12, and hurting Peter badly with a powerful left hook, which had Samuel almost out on feet.

Of all the heavyweight title holders out there, it seems somewhat odd that Wladimir isnít one of them, based on comparative talent. Just from a boxing stand point, if you were to measure Wladimirís boxing talent and athleticism against the other heavyweight title holders, no one would come close to Wladimir in overall talent, other than perhaps James Toney. However, even with all his vast boxing ability and knowledge, Wladimir is a shaky fighter when pressed hard by an opponent, showing visible signs that heís never been taught how to relax when under heavy fire. To be sure, some of that may be due to his training methods that he previously used, which consisted of very few rounds of hard sparring; However, the other part of the problem, I think, is due to his soft diet of 2nd & 3rd tiered fighters that Wladimir built up a large part of his record on.

On Wladimirís way up in the heavyweight division, he really didnít fight too many tough or skilled fighters that could really press or worry him, and when he finally fought a heavyweight that could punch, in Ross Purity, he seemingly fell apart and was stopped in the 11th round, losing by TKO. In that fight, and in his losing effort against Lamon Brewster, Wladimir seemed to have almost had a nervous breakdown, when after he had unloaded his entire offensive arsenal of punches, Brewster and Purrity kept coming, looking for more. However, Wladimir seemed to have no plan B, nor any idea of what to do when facing someone that will not just quit or be knocked out easily, like his other soft opponents, who for the most part, didnít belong in the same ring as Wladimir. However, in 2004, Wladimir began training with Emanuel Steward, who has since been teaching him some of the basic ring fundamentals that he was previously lacking, such as learning how to pace himself and relax when pressed. Moreover, heís got Wladimir moving around in the ring more while fighting, something that he did a lot earlier in his career, before turning into a muscle bound plodder. Against Samuel Peter, Wladimir looked like an imitation Muhammed Ali, as he moved around the ring, circling Peter for the full 12 rounds.

Previous to his bout with Ruiz, Valuev (43-0, 31 KOs) was already popular with the German public, who quickly adopted the Russian fighter after he signed with a German-based promotional company. To be honest, itís difficult to gauge how good Valuev really is based on his last two fights against Larry Donald and John Ruiz, considering that neither fighter really pressed him very hard. Both fighters tried hard, yet due to their size limitations, they didnít appear to press Valuev hard enough to really test him, perhaps fearing that they might catch something if they stayed inside his power range for any length of time. Valuev, although slow and ponderous, has respectable power, that loads up on, much in the same way that George Foreman used to, late in his career. It may seem like heís not punching hard, but due to his monstrous size, when he connects, he has 320 pounds of weight to put behind the punch. For those who doubt his power, take a look at Ruizís face following their heavyweight match, and that will give you an idea of what Valuev can do if he hits you enough.

Now, how would a fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Nicolay Valuev go? I see the fight starting off slowly, with Wladimir landing jabs on the outside, circling the larger man, and using his left hand as a range finder. When Valuev throws his slow jab, I see Wladimir neutralizing it by coming over the top with a right to the head, which will snap Valuevís head back. The big question mark, I think, is whether or not Wladimir has the stamina to keep firing punches for a full 12 rounds. For the most part, Valuev has shown to have an excellent chin, and can take heavyweight shots without budging. However, he has never been in with a fighter that punches as hard or as fast as Wladimir, so it remains to be seen whether he can stand up to the heavy fire power that would be dished out. At the same time, Valuev, wonít just stand in front of Wladimir and make it easy for him. I see him slowly walking Wladimir down and applying steady pressure, while trying to get in close to land one of his big , yet powerful, uppercuts to Wladimirís soft chin.

Prediction: Valuev by 8th round TKO

Article posted on 24.12.2005

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