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Haye-Valuev: Speed Versus Size? It’s More Than That

David Haye Nikolai ValuevBy John Dimeck: On Saturday night when the bell rings to start the heavyweight title fight between champion Valuev of Russia and challenger Haye of Great Britain there is only one thing for certain: No-one really, truly knows what will transpire. Making predictions is every sports fan’s right, and boxing prognosticators enjoy dissecting the possibles, probables, long shots and maybes as much as the disciples of any other sporting, well, discipline.

It is a part of the whole dance, being vindicated when you are proven right that fighter Flintstone would easily overwhelm fighter Rubble because of his superior size and despite Rubble’s quicker hands.

Or, in the case of other sports, the ‘I Told you So’s ‘ might be because someone rightly forecast that the Giants secondary would most certainly be unable to handle the Eagles offense, or whatever ! The point here is that we all love to imagine and predict how sports events will unfold, and when we’re right it’s a beautiful thing.

We still want to watch it all unfold as that uncertainly is a huge part of the allure of watching sports, and in my case watching an intriguing boxing matchup. The very complexity of a human element having an effect on the outcome of any contest rigidly defined by the things we call ‘rules’.

Humans are unpredictable, but in professional sports the predictability is supposedly a bit more definable, the things we call ‘past record’, ‘form’, ‘match-up’ and so on, all allow bookies to take their chances on posting us odds on the various possible outcomes, and odds-makers are smart, that is a given, but it is my opinion that the contest this coming weekend is an extremely difficult one to foresee the outcome of.

Naturally, there will be so many, many, predicted outcomes that someone will get it spot on, that’s the law of averages at work, “I told you he’d ko him at 2.33 of the third round” someone may say, and even if they’re right they are wrong for saying they KNEW they’d be right, unless of course they have a crystal ball I do not know about . This is my rather long winded point here:

Nobody can unequivocally say that they know the key to the outcome of ANY contest before it starts, but this one is rather more difficult to predict than most, in my opinion.

Why? Valuev is, well, a bit unprecedented in boxing history. He is, simply, huge. He definitely has a career as the next James Bond villain, (I can see him as the protector of some cigar smoking, eastern european, world conquering wannabe as they’ve got Bond’s balls in a vice whist gorgeous babes feed the evil mastermind grapes before he releases his deadly virus on the world in 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,………… WAIT ! Bond has escaped and stopped the count….), sorry, where the fook was I ?

Oh yes, Valuev is massive, he’s never been down, and his head is made of teak, reputedly.
Then why do the bookies make Haye, a considerably lighter man, who’s chin is a possible question, the odds on favourite?

They obviously see his smaller size and quickness as an advantage, but will it be enough? Can he evade the Russian’s telling blows for the duration of the contest? Indeed, perhaps he’ll be able to KO the poetry writing monster himself? Who knows?

For what it’s worth, I do want Haye to win. He has a ferocity about him and when he gets you in trouble he starts to salivate and really enjoy his work. On the other hand Valuev has not done much wrong, in or out of the ring, (which is more than can be said for Haye – he’s been quite ungentlemanly in the buildup to this fight), and despite my British allegiance I can’t see him knocking Valuev out. It is quite simply an extreme change of the very rudiments of the sport to adapt to hitting someone so large, so much higher up, frankly, than ususal, as to be a completely different ballgame.

Talking of ballgames our US readers will perhaps be familiar with the time the St.Louis Browns sent midget Eddie Gaedel to the plate in a brazen attempt at flouting the rules. The rules in baseball of course being that the pitcher must throw the ball between waist and knee height, anything outside of there being deemed a ‘ball’, and 4 balls equaling a walk, and so on, you get the gist – the point here is that the wee man ‘walked’ and the rules had to be changed to stop such absurdities from reoccurring. But no such rule has been introduced in boxing to stop people of extreme height competing. Imagine if someone was so tall as to be un-hittable, in the head anyway ! That’s not quite what we’re dealing with here, but I’d argue that Valuev is so outside of the norm as to be a different kettle of fish altogether from a ‘usual’ opponent. Any opponent of his is learning a whole new game, technically. It’s a big head start for the big man.

So, Haye, brash and outspoken, confident and rude, there’s no other way to put it, despite the fact he is given some rope because he ‘needs to promote the fight’ – in this writer’s opinion he’s gone too far. ( I didn’t see Henry Cooper blabbing about a thing before he dismantled Ali prior to getting stopped on cuts way back when.)
Valuev, polite and calm. Retaining his dignity when questioned about writing poetry for his wife – What? He’s supposed to be thick because he’s big? That was the line the media wanted to play, but he usurped them by being simply nice, calm, purposeful. He would not sell the poems to be printed publicly, they were private and let’s talk about boxing ! I like that about him.

He’s dignified, but he’s also big and imposing, AND he’s the underdog.
So I really don’t mind who wins, but one point of note: It may be a harbinger of doom if you’re in the Valuev camp that this fight is taking place in Germany.

Buried and forgotten outside Beriln there is a huge 19 metre statue of the former soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. A purposely enormous rendition, meant to impress and dwarf as well as intimidate any upstarts, it now lies sedate and impotent, it’s time come and gone. If this Russian giant is statuesque on Saturday evening, then he may well get buried too. But that’s why we watch sports, and boxing in particular. You never know what will happen, and I would not be surprised if Valuev’s Bond career has to wait a wee while longer as he might just extend his boxing one a little longer if he catches Haye at some point on Saturday.


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