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Chagaev Injures Foot, Postpones Bout With Valuev

Nikolai Valuev Ruslan ChagaevBy Jim Dower: For the third time since winning the WBA heavyweight title by controversial fashion with a 12-round split decision over Nikolay Valuev last April, undefeated heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev (24-0, 17 KOs) has been forced to cancel one of his title defenses, this time to former champion Valuev (48-1, 24 KOs), who Chagaev had been scheduled to fight next month on July 5th. Earlier today, while conducting sparring in preparation for his bout in July, Chagaev tore his Achilles tendon in his left foot. The injury will require surgery for it to be healed, which will put Chagaev out of action for another extended amount of time, likely until the end of the year.

Valuev, the number # 1 challenger in the WBA, has no other choice but to wait for Chagaev’s injury to heal. This was the second time that Valuev has been forced to wait on Chagaev, who canceled an earlier title defense to Valuev set for May 31st due to a viral infection that Chagaev suffered. Last year, in October, Chagaev had been scheduled to fight a unification bout with then WBO heavyweight champion Sultan Ibragimov, but Chagaev had to back out due to another viral infection. One has to feel a little sorry for Valuev, 34, who lost his title to Chagaev last April despite out-landing him in the fight by a sizable margin. Since losing his title, he’s beaten two fighters, Jean Francois Bergeron and most recently former WBO heavyweight champion Serguei Lyakhovich in February.

For Chagaev’s part, since winning the title, he’s only defended it once in the past 14 months, beating Matt Skelton by a 12-round unanimous decision in January. At this point given his lack of title defenses and his tendency to becoming seriously ill or injured, I feel that the WBA needs to seriously consider stripping Chagaev of his title. As much as I’d like to see him get better, defend his title and move on with his boxing career, it just doesn’t seem fair for the rest of the other heavyweight contenders in the division to have to wait for Chagaev to get over his numerous illnesses and injuries. Sometimes in a sport, a person’s body simply gives out on them and doesn’t allow them to continue to carry on.

If this were baseball, football or basketball, and the entire team or a majority of the players became ill, the likely outcome would be a forfeit, with the win going automatically to the team/player that was healthy enough to compete on that given day. No offense to Chagaev, but he’s now had four chances to compete in the past 14 months, and his body has given out on him now three times. For me, that’s a bit too much, like two times too much.

In an effort of fairness, the WBA needs to strip Chagaev of his boxing title as soon as possible and give it to Valuev. I don’t see this as being the last time that Chagaev pulls out of a fight, as illnesses like the ones he’s experienced in the past have a way of lingering, coming back around again and causing further problems. What will happen then, say Chagaev has to pull out of a 4th bout? Will the WBA take his title away then? I say they need to do it immediately and get shed of this problem. Chagaev has been a big disappointment as a champion, to put it lightly, and the WBA needs to cut their losses while they can.

Chagaev should feel very fortunate that he won the title in the first place, for he appeared to lose the fight from what I saw of it, as well as many other people. His problems go back further than winning the title, however, because he beat Vladimir Virchis and John Ruiz by close, questionable decisions in 2006. I saw both fights (which were fought in Chagaev’s adopted country of Germany), and I had Chagaev losing both of them by two rounds at the minimum.

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