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Holyfield Tries To Beat Father Time Against Valuev

Evander Holyfield Nikolai ValuevBy Jim Dower: Forty-six year-old former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield (42-9-2, 27 KOs) will be facing two opponents on Saturday night – Nikolay Valuev (49-1, 34 KOs) and Father time – in his attempt to capture an unheard of 5th heavyweight title. Given his last performance a year ago in October against Sultan Ibragimov, the odds would seem to be against Holyfield in beating Valuev.

However, don’t tell Holyfield that, because he not only feels that he’ll beat him, but that he has the ability to capture all the heavyweight titles. No doubt, if he succeeds in beating Valuev, 35, it will likely push him into bigger and better fights against Ruslan Chagaev, and then possibly one of the Klitschko brothers. First things first, though, Holyfield will have to find a way to negate the seven-foot Valuev’s 10″ inch height, 7″ inch reach and 100 pound weight advantage.

When all’s said and done, that may be too much for the 46-year-old Holyfield to accomplish against a fighter the size of Valuev. Make no mistake, Holyfield would probably have made easy work of a fighter as large and as slow as Valuev in his prime, but that was long ago, and Holyfield has been declining as a fighter for the past eight years, starting with the first of his three fights against John Ruiz.

Even before that, Holyfield looked bad in his two fights against Lennox Lewis in 1999, as his once high work rate had dropped off dramatically in those two bouts. Now years later, Holyfield fights much slower, moves much less and throws far fewer punches than he did years ago.

Going up against a giant like Valuev, that’s not good thing. If Holyfield has any chance of winning, he’s going to have to take a page from Chagaev’s victory over Valuev in April 2004, a fight in which Chagaev moved in and out, hitting the slower Valuev with fast combinations and then moving to the safety of the outside.

Holyfield can’t stand in front of Valuev like John Ruiz did in his two bouts with him, if he plans on winning. Valuev, even as big and as slow as he is, has a better punch output than Holyfield and would be too much for him if the two stand and trade all night. More importantly, I have grave doubts that Holyfield could stand up to that kind of punishment for 12-rounds without going down once or twice.

Valuev fights well on the inside and has a uppercut and clubbing right hands that he uses to beat his opponents into submission. As great as Holyfield was, his advanced age has neutralized much of his former greatness and made him very beatable. Though Holyfield has only been beaten once in the past four years, that’s not such a big deal when you look at the quality of his opponents, which aside from Ibragimov, has been poor to say the least.

As such, it would seem that Holyfield’s only chance at winning is if his weary, 46-year-old legs can let him move enough to make Valuev have to chase him around the ring for 12 rounds. Additionally, Holyfield would then also need fast combinations, and a steady work rate if he’s to have a chance at beating Valuev.

I doubt that he’ll be able to pull this off, because his legs have been slowed in recent years, making him look much of the time like he’s mired in quick sand, whereas his work rate and hand speed have also taken a big hit. Nowadays, he’s more of a pot shot-type fighter and is only capable of landing a big punch now and then followed by long periods of inactivity.

For this reason, I see Valuev winning an easy, landslide 12-round decision over Holyfield. Hopefully, after losing to Valuev, Holyfield will call it quits, and realize that he has no chance of ever capturing another major heavyweight title.

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