David Haye, new WBA champion
By Michael Norby: Former cruiserweight world champion David Haye produced a disciplined display of heavyweight boxing on Saturday night to defeat super-sized Russian Nikolai Valuev by majority decision at the Arena Nurnberger Versicherung in Nuremberg, Germany.
The ever-confident Haye 23-1 (21) talked a big game in the run-up to the fight. And who could blame him? Possessing fearsome firepower, greater speed and the vision of what an old Evander Holyfield had almost achieved in a majority decision loss to the big Russian in December of last year, Haye predicted that he would be the first man to knockout his massive opponent.
Overcoming a tremendous size difference, Haye, who conceded an astonishing 100lbs to the big Russian, employed footwork and a late surge of rattling firepower to wrestle the WBA heavyweight title away from Valuev 50-2 (34) – becoming Britain’s first heavyweight world champion since Lennox Lewis.
“This is everything to me,” said Haye after the fight. “Since I was a little baby I said I’d be the heavyweight champion of the world and my dream has come true.
“I fought the biggest heavyweight champion in history and he was very strong,” he continued. “I hit him with big shots and only in the last round did it seem to stun him but I damaged my hand in the second or third round and…that’s why I didn’t use it regularly.”
The Englishman opened the contest retreating as the jaw-droppingly bigger Valuev pressed forward trying to coral him to arms length. Haye darted inside sporadically with single shots to the body and just missed with a big right hand midway through the round. The former cruiserweight champion swarmed around the ring like a gnat, not allowing the big man to connect and, although his own output was modest to say the least, he out-landed the champion during a quiet three minutes.
Again, in the second, Haye used his footwork and speed to frustrate the champion. It was less than attractive, but Haye sweetened things a tad late in the round with a snapping right hand that forced Valuev to cover up and shake his head. The Russian just could not catch up to the challenger and, as the bell rang, he was surely relying on Haye emptying his gas tank later in the contest.
A two punch sequence and a right hand in the final minute of the third round was about all that happened offensively in the frame as Valuev chased and the speedy Haye kept his distance. In a better round for the champion, Valuev landed a clean left hook and a straight right hand in the fourth while Haye responded with a handful of punches before scuttling away from danger.
Apart from a mid-round flurry, Haye did next to nothing in the fifth while the champion pressed forward. The Englishman was still making his man miss, but given Germany’s record on scoring fights, his abandonment of offense was a shaky tactic. Valuev managed to score with a rare combination late in the frame which surely pocketed him the round as the fight entered the halfway point.
Indeed Valuev was finding more success as the fight progressed. In the sixth, although Haye landed several single punches upstairs, Valuev continued to press forward calmly and began to find the challenger more often. Haye was less successful in slipping the jab and looked to be in an exclusively defensive mode of boxing in the seventh as he inched around the ring away from the big man. Except for a quick flurry at the bell with his back in a corner, Haye was seemingly out-landed as the Russian began to find a rhythm.
Valuev’s steady, if uninspiring, approach was countered by Haye’s one-shot and away tactics and it was clear that the big Russian was the more comfortable of the two. He shook out his hands, got on his toes at times and shot out his jab as Haye continued to move well but threw little in rounds seven and eight – which were almost carbon copies of one another.
Haye was a little keener in the ninth and he connected with a number of clean shots and beat the champion to the punch for much of the tenth as the Englishman began to wake up offensively. He rattled off a number of successful attacks and got out of harms way before Valuev could respond to tighten the scoring as the contest entered the championship rounds.
After another overly cautious eleventh, however, in which Valuev again seemed the more at ease, Haye emerged or the final frame in need of a big performance. Both guys traded jabs for the first minute of the round but, in a stunning twist, Haye hurt the Russian in the final minute with a thunderous combination that forced Valuev to stumble against the ropes.
Haye launched into Valuev with a follow-up assault but couldn’t put him away and, after a largely ho-hum heavyweight title contest, punctuated with a late, almost explosive surge from the Englishman, two of the three judges awarded Haye the fight.
Scores: 114-114; 116-112; 116-112
As he cleared the way for a shot at David Haye’s newly won WBA heavyweight title, former two-time world champion John Ruiz over-powered Turkish journeyman Adnan Serin en route to a seventh round stoppage victory.
A sharp, aggressive Ruiz 44-8-1 (30), making his first ring appearance since losing for a second time to Valuev 15 months ago, dominated his overmatched opponent from the outset. The American abandoned his usual hit-and-hold strategy and looked bright in the process. He thumped Serin 19-11-1 (7) with numerous right hands and combinations to the head and body in the opening rounds and the gulf in class was evident as the big European soaked up a slew of punches.
Ruiz stunned his man in the second round with a pair of jarring uppercuts as the tough Turk made his way to the inside and, although Serin was throwing back occasionally, Ruiz easily out-worked and out-powered the 34-year-old. Serin kept coming, though, and he forced the former champion to work in the third and increased Ruiz’ sense of urgency in the fourth after he opened a nasty cut on the bridge of the American’s nose.
Serin began to wither in the middle rounds, however, and Ruiz began to pour it on. He thumped the Turk to the body in the fifth and regularly cornered Serin in the sixth where he unleashed hard combinations that clearly bothered his opponent. Only the ropes stopped Serin from falling in the seventh round after Ruiz connected with four huge right hands that prompted referee Josef Temml to rule a knockdown.
After the restart, Ruiz immediately attacked his damaged opponent and, after a string of right hands landed flush, Serin’s corner threw in the towel.
Time of stoppage: 1:34 RD7