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Just how credible is the Haye–Valuev fight?

David Haye Nikolai Valuev
By Kwame Cinquez: David Haye, the former cruiserweight champion, has referred to his opponent as a ‘Beast’, ‘Freak’, ‘The ugliest thing I have ever seen’, posed with cardboard cut-outs of the fighter then to decapitate the cardboard replica. Whilst all this has been done in the Muhammad Ali style of pre-fight hype (Trash talk), one significant word has been left out of the Haye Arsenal: Easy.

Valuev, it should not be forgotten, was on the receiving end of an extremely fortunate decision against the 44yr old Evander Holyfield, the same Holyfield who was given significant losses by both former cruiserweight James Toney and the Russian Sultan Ibragimov. His own position as the WBA champion is indeed questionable, before we even enter into the merits of the “Hayemaker’s” position in the WBA rankings.

Who has David Haye beaten, at either Cruiserweight or Heavyweight, to be able to be so obnoxious towards his opponent? The truth is the only standout name on his record is the knockout of Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck in Paris. Mormeck, with his well known stamina issues, had given Haye a brutal lesson in speed and power before his usual tiring in the later rounds (and subsequently retired from boxing)

WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev is a slow, one dimensional, technically limited fighter. Whilst I am no fan of David Haye, if he cannot beat the likes of Valuev he has no business in the higher tier of heavyweight boxing (Despite my misgivings on his place in this fight). Does the same David Haye, who lost to Carl Thompson, was rocked well by Mormeck, really be able to challenge the higher level of fighters in the heavyweight division, or more importantly, does he deserve to?

Furthermore, on what basis is Haye even allowed this fight? Does defeating no mark fighters such as Monte Barrett (who has losses on his record to distinguished fighters such as Cliff Couser), a failed clash with either of the Klitschko brothers truly entitle you to challenge for one of the Heavyweight titles, or indeed be ranked 4th by the WBA? Surely John Ruiz, Kali Meehan and Ruslan Chagaev (WBA rankings) are far more legitimate opponents for Valuev.

Whatever the outcome of this fight, one thing is certain; neither fighter has the ability to challenge either Klitschko. Haye and Valuev would both lose decisively to either Wladimir or Vitali, and this meeting as a title fight is a damning indictment on the current condition of the Heavyweight roster. Furthermore, Haye is at risk of further alienating himself from true boxing fans with his not only his lack of respect for his adversary (a fundamental rule in martial arts) but also his rise to power, despite his lack of pedigree in his new division. Boxing is in real danger of slipping further from a meritocratic based sport to an international pugilistic popularity contest, and this fight just provides further example of this sad decline.

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