At 7-feet tall and 320-pounds, Nikolay Valuev is the most important particular person to win a boxing world title. The Russian behemoth twice held the WBA heavyweight title within the mid-to-late 2000s.
Valuev (50-2, 34 knockouts) was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, on August 21, 1973. He grew up the one youngster of a working-class household. Each his mother and father labored at a manufacturing unit.
“At that time within the Soviet Union most individuals have been equal,” Valuev instructed The Ring, by Max Alperovich. “I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood. My mother and father performed an incredible half in my upbringing—my philosophy of life. I’m actually, actually grateful to my mother and father.
“I’m nonetheless a citizen of Leningrad. When the Soviet Union broke up, it turned Saint Petersburg. Town modified, however I’m nonetheless old-school mentality.”
Valuev tried a number of totally different pursuits in his early life earlier than arriving at boxing.
“I began in athletics as a discus thrower, I maintain very excessive accolades in that,” he defined. “Then I attempted basketball for a few years. When the Soviet Union broke up, I used to be pressured to take a number of troublesome jobs, as a waiter, farmer and so on.
“I got here into boxing after I was 20 years outdated and boxing saved my life.”
Valuev, who wears a U.S. dimension 18 shoe, had within the area of 15 beginner fights and turned skilled in Germany in October 1993. He fought twice extra in Russia, earlier than switching again to beginner boxing and going to the Goodwill Video games the next summer time, the place he misplaced to compatriot and eventual gold medal winner Alexey Lezin, within the quarterfinals, on a countback choice.
“The Russian Big” went again to the skilled ranks and stayed unbeaten, however his profession lacked route.
“I had about 30 fights everywhere in the world,” stated Valuev, who fought in Japan, Czech Republic, South Korea and Belarus. “At one level, I signed a contract with Sauerland and that’s when my profession turned a bit of extra focused towards the world titles. I used to be already ranked by a lot of the sanctioning our bodies, however after I signed the contract that’s when the street to the title began.”
Having lastly discovered a house in Germany with the Sauerland’s, he labored his means into place to face WBA titleholder John Ruiz in December 2005.
It was an in depth battle, however Valuev was in a position to edge issues by a hard-fought 12-round majority choice.
“When my hand was raised in opposition to Ruiz, it was the sensation of goals coming true,” he stated. “It was my aim in life, I made my dream come true.
“I had a really laborious path to profitable the title, as a result of I began fairly late and needed to endure a variety of accidents.”
The Russian made three profitable defenses turning again the challenges of Owen Beck (TKO 3), Monte Barrett (TKO 11) and Jameel McCline (RTD 3), earlier than he was dethroned by the a lot smaller, however expert, Ruslan Chagaev by majority choice in April 2007.
Valuev rebounded to outpoint Jean Francois Bergeron, after which Siarhei Liakhovich in a WBA eliminator. Valuev had a rematch with Ruiz for the vacant WBA title. Once more, Valuev beat Ruiz, this time by unanimous choice.
Valuev met growing old, however legendary former four-time heavyweight titleholder Evander Holyfield in Zurich, Switzerland. Though in his mid-40s, Holyfield was nonetheless extraordinarily aggressive, and a few thought he did sufficient to win, however Valuev in the end was awarded the 12-round majority choice.
Valuev and Chagaev have been scheduled to satisfy in a rematch in Helsinki, Finland, in Could 2009. Nonetheless, the battle was cancelled after the weight-in, as a result of Chagaev failed the medical as a result of Hepatitis. Curiously, weeks later, Chagaev stepped in to face Wladimir Klitschko.
In November 2009, Valuev met David Haye in Hamburg, Germany. Regardless of outweighing the Brit by some 99-pounds, Valuev dropped a majority-decision.
He debated returning, however for myriad causes walked away.
“I used to be speculated to battle Vitali Klitschko a few instances,” Valuev defined. “I used to be in camp and each camps fell by. I used to be provided a really insulting sum of cash to battle each instances. The fights by no means occurred. I used to be very disenchanted having gone by a number of camps.
“Lastly, all of the accidents I endured required many surgical procedures. I additionally found I had a genetic illness (Gigantism and Acromegaly) and needed to have surgical procedure for that as effectively. After which I lastly determined to hold up the gloves.
“Every little thing is nice in the meanwhile; every little thing has been mounted and is beneath management.”
Valuev, now 47, is married and has three kids. He nonetheless lives in St. Petersburg. He’s extraordinarily busy, engaged on a number of initiatives, notably as a presenter for the fashionable Youngsters’s TV present “Good Evening, Little Ones!” He additionally commentates on boxing for Ren TV and represents the BryanskaYa Oblast get together in Authorities and is at the moment serving his second time period.
He graciously took time to talk to The Ring about the perfect he fought in 10 key classes.
Larry Donald: The jab was one in every of his main weapons. He did it higher than anybody else I confronted.
Ruslan Chagaev: Ruslan Chagaev for positive. A considerably slick southpaw. There was a giant distinction in dimension, as a result of he was so much smaller it was troublesome to land.
David Haye had the quickest palms of any opponent Valuev confronted (Picture courtesy of Sky Sports activities)
David Haye: He was extra of a real cruiserweight than heavyweight and he was so much quicker than anybody else.
Donald: Larry Donald had the perfect footwork. There was a Ukrainian opponent, Taras Bidenko. I’d say Donald.
John Ruiz: I can’t recollect anybody specifically. If I hit anyone flush, they might fold. The one opponents who took the punches effectively have been those who rolled with the punches. Most sturdy, take the depth, in all probability Ruiz.
Evander Holyfield: The blokes with good I.Q. have been the fellows I misplaced to, Chagaev and David Haye. Holyfield had the perfect ring I.Q, though on the time after I fought him, he was considerably older.
Nicolay Valuev (left) says Jameel McCline was the strongest fighter he ever confronted. (Picture credit score: David Martin Warr/Don King Productions)
Jameel McCline: He twisted his knee, however he had a variety of uncooked energy and power.
Holyfield: He was one in every of my hardest fights. He stored hitting me to the ribs and fractured one of many ribs. I couldn’t breathe correctly for a month. It was very unorthodox, it was a punch up shut, the place he stored throwing hooks on the within. It was very laborious to defend in opposition to.
Donald: Larry Donald was very stylish all-round.
Holyfield: His potential to battle up shut and he was in a position to constantly land these punches to the ribs.
Max Alperovich helped co-ordinate and translate this function. The Ring appreciated his help.
Questions and/or feedback might be despatched to Anson at e[email protected] and you’ll comply with him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright