Saturday, December 23, 2006

Valuev - McCline Prediction

In the boxing land of giants nothing will touch this fight. Nicolay Valuev, the tallest, 7'0", and heaviest, 320-plus, man ever to wear a crown will square off with fellow big man Jameel McCline, himself a 6'6", 270-ish, battler. Depending on the actual weigh-in results there could be as much as 600 pounds of man-flesh in the ring for Valuev's January defense of his alphabet version of the heavyweight title.

Valuev depends heavily (pun intended) on a better-than-expect left jab, a seemingly granite chin, and the overall ability to fight steadily over the distance. He's not all that hard to hit but doing so normally requires a running start to climb up the giant Russian to land squarely. While not an especially big hitter, suprising given his normal weight advantage, he wears on opponents and makes consistent attacks almost impossible using his jab and smothering ability.

The more athletic McCline is a late comer to the game. While he often fights in the vicinity of 270, he always appears in good condition. He's certainly had his difficulties along the way, being stopped by Wladimir Klitschko, controversially outpointed by Chris Byrd, edged out by Calvin Brock (despite a solid knockdown) and being outhustled by non-puncher Zuri Lawrence. Yet through it all, he has remained competitive and resilient. It can't go without being said, however, of late it has also appeared that at 36 he may be starting to succumb to the effects of father time.

PREDICTION: Although Valuev at 45-0 seems on his way to surpassing Rocky Marciano's fabled record of 49-0 by skirting the major names, he may have miscalculated. McCline knows this is his last shot both a title and meaningful money. There are no tomorrows in boxing for "Big Time." Look for Valuev to attempt the jab early and often and attempt to tie up McCline on the inside just as he's done against everyone he's met. McCline may in fact be the biggest man Valuev has met in his career and he will be surprised at the strength McCline brings (despite his lack of the big KO punch). McCline also has the element of speed that may prove the clincher. Valuev won't go easily and it won't be an easy night and we've seen McCline give in to the pressure of big bouts before. On this night, however, McCline will be up to the task. He won't allow himself to be tied up and he will land early and often enough to gain a wide points margin. His biggest foe may not be Valuev but the judges at ringside. "Big Time" should prevail despite it all by making it obvious that he's the "bigger" man. McCline by a big 12 round decision.
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