Why Did the Klitschko’s and 7’0” Giant Nikolai Valuev Not Meet?
By: Ken Hissner
Nikolai Valuev was the WBA heavyweight champion winning 50 out of 52 fights with 34 by knockout! At 7’0” he was the tallest boxer to ever win a world title. The “Russian Giant” or “Beast from the East” won the Russian title, PABA title, WBA International title, WBA Inter-Continental title and the WBA World title.
Valuev fought in 10 different countries like Germany, Switzerland, Korea, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Japan, Australia, Russia, United Kingdom and the USA. His highest fighting weight was 348 lbs. and his lowest 310 lbs. He made 4 successful title defenses winning the WBA title twice. Much was expected from him due to his size.
Valuev turned professional in October 1993 stopping American John Morton, 10-28, in Berlin, Germany. He then won 3 straight in St. Petersburg, Russia. He would not return to Russia for 4 years. He would travel to the UK and Australia winning a pair by knockout in each country. He then would make his USA debut in Atlantic City, NJ, which would be only one of the 3 appearances in that country. It was May of 1997 and he stopped Terrell Nelson, 6-3, in 2 rounds. It was his 8th stoppage in 9 fights.
Valuev would travel to Japan on the undercard of a world title fight and back to Australia posting a decision win and a stoppage before returning to fight in Russia 11-0 with 7 stoppages. Then off to Germany and Australia before returning to Russia defeating a pair of Americans with American referee’s handling the action. Two fights later he won his first title becoming the Russian champion in January of 1999. He would go to the Czech Republic against future German champion Andres Sidon which ended during the sixth round when the referee left the ring and it was scheduled for 6 and ruled a no-contest.
In June of 2000 he would win the interim PABA title over 12 rounds. Two fights later he won the PABA title outright stopping American George Linberger, 19-6-1, in the first round in Atlantic City, NJ. In his next fight he would make his first defense defeating the OPBF champion Toakipa Tasefa, 27-2-2, of New Zealand putting him into retirement. In February of 2004 he stopped American Dickie Ryan, 54-7, in the first round in Germany. Ryan was the fighter who defeated Brian Nielsen who was 49-0 at the time.
From the time Valuev defeated Ryan he was defeating only fighters with winning records such as Argentina’s Marcelo Fabian Dominguez, 37-4, Nigerian Ricardo Bango, 16-0, of Spain, Italian champion Paolo Vidoz, 17-1, of Italy. Next was his fight with American Gerald “The Jedi” Nobles, 24-0, with 19 knockouts out of Philadelphia. Nobles was a powerful puncher but had problems getting inside of Valuev and when he did he was holding and finally got disqualified in the fourth round. Next was Sweden’s Attila “The Hun” Levin, 29-2, a 1996 Olympian who had most of his fights in the USA trained by Angelo Dundee. Valuev stopped him in 3 rounds.
Valuev would stop American Clifford “the Black Rhino” Etienne, 29-3-2, and follow up with a majority decision over Larry Donald 42-3-3, earning him a WBA title fight with John “the Quiet Man” Ruiz, 41-5-1, defeating him by majority decision to win the WBA title in December of 2005. It was his twelfth straight win in Germany. Neither Klitschko held a title at that time. Vitali was inactive from December 2004 until October 2008 due to being in politics in Kiev UKR.
In Valuev’s first title defense he stopped Jamaican Owen “What the Heck” Beck, 25-2, in 3 rounds. It was his 43rd straight win. In his second defense in October of 2006 he returned to the USA stopping Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett, 31-4, in Rosement, IL, in the eleventh round though well ahead. A month after this Wladimir was making a defense against Calvin Brock. Why did they not unify at that time? In January of 2007 in his third defense he would take on Jamal “Big Time” McCline, 38-6, in Switzerland in January of 2007. McCline retired in the third round injuring his knee. Two months later Wladimir was defending against Ray Austin. Once again why didn’t they unify?
With a 46-0 record Valuev would go 10 months before meeting Chagaev in December of 2009. In the meantime Wladimir defended in June of 2009 defended his title. Vitali fought 3 times during that period in March, September and December of 2009. Valuev returned to Germany making his fourth defense in October of 2009 but lost for the first time to Uzebekistan’s Ruslan “White Tyson” Chagaev, 22-0-1, out of Germany by majority decision. Chagaev defended his title 8 months later and then not fight until 13 months before losing to Wladimir Klitschko. Wladmir had no problem unifying with Chagaev but never Valuev for his WBA title.
Valuev would return to action some 5 months after suffering his first loss not being able to get a rematch with Chagaev he defeated Canadian Jean Francois Bergman, 27-0, the WBA-NABA champion by a lopsided decision. He followed up with a win over former WBO champion Siarhei Liakhovich, 23-2, of the Belarus though living in the USA, taking every round in a WBA eliminator.
In August of 1980 Valuev would fight for the vacant WBA title and once again defeating John “the Quiet Man” Ruiz, 43-7-1. He would return to Switzerland defending against Evander “The Real Deal” Holyfield, 42-9-2, who had held 3 of the title’s all but the WBO title. In his previous fight he lost to WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov some 14 months before. Thinking Holyfield was on the down side Valuev was in for a big surprise taking a majority decision. Valuev had almost scored a knockdown in the eighth round. In the tenth round both scored heavy punches. Holyfield spent most of the rounds bouncing around the ring with Valuev trying to corner him. The announcement of the decision many felt was controversial. In the previous month Wladimir was defending against Tony Thompson. Why no unification?
It would be 11 months in October of 2009 before Valuev would fight defending against David “Hayemaker” Haye, 22-1, of the UK. Valuev would lose for only the second time in 52 fights by majority decision in Germany. With no rematch clause it would be John Ruiz getting the first defense by Haye who would eventually lose to Wladimir Klitschko in his third defense. Vitali Klitschko after losing to Lennox Lewis who would retire not giving Klitschko a rematch re-won the WBC title holding it until 2012. Vitali would come back after a 4 year absence to fight Samuel Peter in October of 2008 for the WBC title.
The 7’0” Russian Giant, Nikolai Valuev, ended his 16 year career 50-2 with 34 stoppages. He didn’t fight in Russia after 2002. He had 13 bouts in his homeland but oddly enough he never won or defended his WBA World title there.
There were talks of Vitali meeting Valuev but promotional issues between Don King and Sauerland. Valuev announced his retirement 3 days after losing to Haye. His family physician confirmed that due to “serious bone and joint. problems” putting any comeback decisions out the window. His wife Galina is 5’02” and they have children Irma and Grisha. He is a Russian Orthodox Christian. In 2009 he started the Nickolai Valuev Boxing School. In 2010 he founded the Valuev Youth Sports Foundation. The tallest boxer ever to win a world title is Nikolai Valuev!