Saturday, October 07, 2006

Valuev: The giant goes west

By JE Grant

Nicolay Valuev, the 7-footer weighed in at a whopping 328 Thursday in preparation for the second defense of his share of the heavyweight title at the Allstate Arena in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont.

His opponent, the affable and mildly talented Monte Barrett, himself no small fellow at 6’3” and 223 pounds (yes, that’s 105 fewer pounds than Valuev), appeared confident and less than impressed by the giant once dubbed “The Beast from the East.”

While 328 is the heaviest of Valuev’s career, it is just a few pounds from his normal 320-ish. Fitness won’t be an issue for either fighter.

Naturally the size of the titlist and the size differential between him and his opponent is the only real draw for this bout.

Valuev has beaten able fighters such as John Ruiz and Larry Donald to amass his record of 44-0 (32 KOs) including 1 NC. In both bouts, however, the decisions were of the very disputed variety.

American fans have not yet witnessed the big man’s game and many may be surprised to see some incongruities.

Despite his appearance, the “Russian Giant,” as he is now being called, is agile. Working steadily behind a better than average jab, Valuev forces his opponents to work hard throughout the contest to avoid him.

One would think that the enormous span of his jab and his ability and willingness to use it would keep his foes at bay. Most of his better opposition, most notably Donald, has proven able to get under or around the jab on numerous occasions to land a variety of punches.

More confounding, however, is the fact that even with 320-plus pounds behind his blows, Valuev has only slightly above-average power. George Foreman won’t be forgotten by watching him.

His most unsurprising shortcoming is a lack of speed, thus the loophole available to most of his potential opponent to make up for the tremendous size difference.

The speed deficit has resulted in his being clocked with heavy shots from several opponents. No one has shown an ability to dent his rock-solid chin to date.

Since signing away a slice of his promotional pie to Don King, the blueprint for his title reign that is emerging is fighting King-related fighters who sit on the fringes of the ranked members of the division.

In his first title defense, Valuev scored a three-round knockout of Owen Beck, a fighter who had lost two of his preceding three fights (including a stoppage loss to Barrett). Beck, like Barrett, had above average skills but no history of being able to rise above the crowd.

The enigmatic 35 year-old New Yorker Barrett, 31-4 (17 KOs), has always shown talent if not an ability to move to the elite level of the division. Despite solid wins over the likes of fringe contenders such as Beck and Dominck Guinn as well as over-the-hill ex-champs Tim Witherspoon and Greg Page, Barrett has come up short in the breakout bouts.

Close losses to Lance Whitaker and Joe Mesi showed that he belonged in the same ring as the big guys but that he couldn’t get past the lower part of the top ten.

A blowout loss to Wladimir Klitschko (Barrett was down five times before being stopped in seven rounds) and a clear points loss to Hasim Rahman demonstrated the truly elite level was just beyond his grasp.

Since that August 2005 loss to Rahman, “Two Gunz” has not had any fights. For a 35 year-old fighter this is an interesting path to a title shot.

With above average boxing ability and very average power, he enters the ring against Valuev a decided underdog.

PREDICTION: Valuev will seek to establish his long jab as Barrett tries to weave away from it and land counters. He has the capability to get in quick shots against the available chin of the big man. The interesting question to be answered is whether he can get past that jab often enough to make it interesting. Valuev will force the action throughout and test Barrett’s resolve and ability shake off the ring rust accumulated over the last 14 months. Look for Valuev to outwork Barrett and land early and often on the smaller, lighter-hitting challenger. Barrett will not likely produce enough volume to take Valuev out of his game. Valuev will rack up round after round without seriously hurting Barrett. Valuev by easy 12-round decision.


Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

Ugh...(Did Valuev go West or further "South"?) Well, what can I say. He beat another top-20/top-30 type guy, and closed the show in somewhat impressive fashion. But...That was about the only thing mildly impressive, other than his chin. (I know Barrett isn't a huge banger, but he's a decent one and didn't even faze the big lummox.) I actually only had Valuev up 6-4 after 10, but I could see the eventual handwriting on the wall. Valuev will no doubt beat all the C-level guys, POSSIBLY most or all the B-level ones (very questionable there, however) but no way in hell does he beat the bona-fide A-level hvy's. Just too predictable and SLOW...

12:20 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

P.S- If Valuev had huge one-punch KO power to go with his huge size and chin, he might really be a force to be reckoned with. But he doesn't. As it stands, he's no longer a 'complete joke/farce', but still a definite partial one I.M.O.

12:23 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

The prefight interviews leads one to admire Valuev the man more than the fighter. He has now won 45 fights, the last four of which were against fringe-legitimate contenders. He's not the best, but he's far from the worst.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

Well put J.E. I agree.

2:59 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

The circus-act jokes and snide remarks simply don't hold up to the reality of Valuev. He's no fluke.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

Well...I partially agree there. He can no longer be considered a complete joke, as the guy has clearly beaten respectable and decent competition. But...I still think the guy and his record are a "partial joke" (for the lack of a better term) as he had a very close and debatable win over a 38 yr.old fringe contender, and a very mediocre John Ruiz. Basically, I've always said that I don't think the guy is quite as bad as some make him out to be, but he's not all that good either. I think with his good chin, decent stamina & power, modest skills, and of course S-I-Z-E, he is a somewhat formidable "2nd-tier/echelon hvy". He has really yet to defeat a GOOD hvy, let alone a VERY good one. And I don't think he will. He's become a legit contender, but I don't think he'll ever be truly "elite".

6:43 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

Incidentally, Primo Carnera was also not quite as "bad" as what history has painted him as. He wasn't that good, but not that bad.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

Did you think he was impressive last night J.E??? Aside from him closing the show and getting the job done against a decent hvy, I wasn't impressed AT ALL. Just so predictable, limited, and S-L-O-W.

6:48 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

Wow I had it 6-4 as well plus the KD. Valuev's stock plummeted though. Barrett came to fight and did better than I thought. I also thought that Valuev would be able to establish his jab sooner, but to avail. I think that even someone like Dimitrenko could outbox this guy. the key is to out-jab him, and Dimitrenko or evn Rahmann if conditioned properly could accomplsih this. Maskaev would be the best match-up for Valuev, and an interesting fight that would be. I also would like to see Valuev in against Austin, but Rainman is being setup for an IBF title shot. Now valuev is no sideshow, but he isn't a real contender either. I know he haas victories over some fringe guys, but Donald truly beat him in my book, and Ruiz, well it was questionable and a Quartey/Forrest type of decision. Beck was offered up and so was Barrett, but Barrett was almost more than Valuev bargained. Onc e again you can add Kevin Johnson to the list of people who could out-jab Valuev. If only Johnson had some stamina and chin, both questions that have yet to be answered. Oh and as for respecting Valuev the man, trur you have to respect a fighter wanting to be just a normal man. Love for country, family, and friends is a great quality. What Valuev and most fighters these days forget is that are truly entertainers. Being fighters isn't just a right as they seem to act. We pay money to see them perform a dangerous combat art. And bringing attention to themselves as fighters isn't an easy feat, and thus they don't make the expected income. That is why Briggs is so poular. People either want to see him laid out or to lay someone else out. Not everyone can be Muhammad Ali, but not everyone needs to be Geffrey Batello

7:21 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

I was not overly impressed by Valuev -- no. I think of him about what I thought of him coming in to the bout: Better than usually given credit for, but clearly not the best heavyweight. No way was the bout close, however. Barrett never posed a threat of winning with or without the knockdowns or the knockout. He won 3 rounds in my book but barely in each case. His looping once-in-a-while punches had zero effect on the big guy and he appeared ready to sprawl on the canvas many times. I give him credit for not quitting even when it was written all over his face that he wanted to. I see Klitschko, Liakhovich and others beating him handily --- but many others won't be able to get past him even with better skills than he presents.

7:53 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Cruiser -- We'll have to agree to disagree about Carnera. While he certainly improved despite gaining many of his early wins by unsavory means (presumably without his knowledge), he was never above the club level in skills.

7:55 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Cruiser -- I think Valuev has beaten the kind of guys that would lead to a title shot: Ruiz, Donald, Beck, and Barrett are all fringe or better than fringe contenders. Except for Klitschko, Rahman and Brewster, really there is no one in the division who has legitimately beaten as many Top 10-15 heavyweights. Not Toney (zero wins against top 10-15 to date). Not Peter. Not Liakhovich. I'm not saying his is better than that crowd but he is engaging.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

I generally agree, J.E. And Carnera was indeed nothing more than a good club-fighter that was big and could punch a little. I agree. But many dodn't even give him that much credit. I would put Valuev at right about the same level actually, but he is HUGE, and has a better chin. I thought the fight through ten was RELATIVELY close. I had Barrett winning no more than 4 rounds, you had him winning 3. Anyways, he has an engaging personality, and is still somewhat of a 'curiosity', but his stock actually took a slight turn downward in my opinion if anything. I actually thought Barrett fought a stupid fight at times, and Valuev...For the most part looked pretty bad. I didn't even find him 'fun to watch'. He will beat many, but I honestly think many will beat him. I think he is at best a 2nd tier/echelon hvy. He wasn't horrible, but not impressed at all.

8:35 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Agreed. But..........he is definitely the best 7-foot plus heavyweight ever.

8:41 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...


8:41 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Oh........I agree, he is NOT fun to watch. It is, however, somewhat fun to watch him enter the ring and engage in the prefight staredown. I don't think I've seen anything like that staredown since George Foreman - Joe Frazier. (And no, I'm not considering him otherwise remotely in their class).

8:55 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

Have you guys seem Valuev's entrances before? He has had some of the gayest hasselhoff-type music playing via a live band and walked down accompanied by fireworks. A little dramatic, I like Ruiz' sprint to the ring better.

8:58 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

I've seen it on the Boxen website. His step over the top strand is, however, pretty cool.

9:01 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

Well he would throw his back out if he tried to step underneath them.

9:07 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

True enough.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

LOL...Indeed he is Mr.Grant. Indeed he is. And yes, I thought at first he was trying to be intimidating with the step-over-the-top-rope thing, but then I realized it was more practical. Besides, virtually impossible to be intimidating with Hasselhoff music.

Anyways, he got the job done, and the big guy's relative stamina and sturdy chin are pretty impressive, but I thought if he was going to REALLY make any kind of 'statement' here, he would have either; A. Pitched a virtual shutout (he was perhaps lucky Barrett isn't a big puncher) and got his jab going. Or, ideally; B. KO'd the game but less-than-iron-chinned and past-his-prime (if he ever really had one) Barrett in the early or mid rounds ala Vlad Klitschko.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

Once again, if the guy had a huge punch (ala Foreman) to make up for his limited skills and dinasaur-stuck-in-a-tarpit slower-than-an-ice-glacier 'sleight of hand & foot', I think he could have been a real force with that size and chin. But...He only has slightly-above-average power. As soon as this guy steps up to true 'primetime' - he gets beat, and gets beat bad. I just hope it happens before he scores 49 or 50.

10:08 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

49 or 50 doesn't really matter. Just like Robinson with all those losses at the end of career doesn't matter. Marciano is Marciano and he fought some great fighters and always brought the fight and was never boring. We as fans and scribes of the sport know that Marciano's record will never truly be broken, at least Valuev can't be considered for it. Just like Sugar Ray Robinson is still argueably the greatest fighter of all-time, even though he lost several times throughout his career.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

Well...True. But it is kind of a 'sacred mark'. I was actually rooting for Holmes to break it, but I thought an aging Holmes lost the first Spinks fight 8-7. However, I thought he won the second one 9-6 or 10-5. He got robbed in the 2nd one...;-(

(If Valuev does it by beating the absolute best hvy competition - then fine. That's okay. But I don't think he can, and I can smell the sickening Don King cheap marketing-angle coming...Perhaps I will be wrong. Hopefully so.)

10:53 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

Don King's presence will end at the 47th fight. Valuev hates King and Suaerland is a bit annoyed by him as well. King has two fights left adn thats it.

10:55 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Achieving 50-0 will only mean something if the "0" is never replaced with a "1". Didn't Julio Caesar Chavez achieve 88-0 at one point?

9:22 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Need more comments on Mollo-McBride. What's the skinny on Mollo? I know McBride is a club-fighter so perhaps this fight doesn't tell us anything.

8:16 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

Mollo is really (overall and generally speaking) about the same level as Mcbride, J.E. Maybe a tad better - and certainly appears to 'match up' pretty well with him - but despite his quick and impressive victory, he is not a bona-fide world-class hvy prospect. A match between he and Minto would be kind of interesting, and pretty even on paper at least.

(If you are looking for an 'American hope', it ain't Mollo. The good news is he's decent, the bad news is...He's decent.)

12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See the 11th Round with the TKO in the video

9:03 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

(Thanks for the link) Among many others, you know who I think could beat this big lummox? A guy named Taras Bidenko. Taras is not future undisputed world champ material, but he's a good hvy. He fought Valuev a few years ago to a close 12-round decision loss. Bidenko was only about 3-0 at the time, and in his early 20's. I think he would beat him now.

3:21 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

"In sum, he's no longer a novelty act. He's flawed and beatable, but won't be easy to beat". - Thomas Hauser on Nicolay Valuev.

(Very well put.)

4:32 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...


4:35 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...


4:35 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

Bizzy, I would generally agree with you on Bidenko, but he is still gunshy after the 12th rd stoppage by the hands of Virchis. Bidenko has the ability yes, but does he have the fire?

6:50 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight (bizzy) said...

Ahh, he was winning that fight up until that point though Troy, and Virchis is a huge puncher; Valuev is just huge.

9:59 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

I know Bidenko was winning the fight handily, but he has been gunshy in his subsequent fights, especially the follow-up against Colliander. Bidenko is starting to regain some confidence as he shwoed against the Argentenian, but a fight or two and he's right back there on top of his game.

11:30 PM  

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