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Haye outpoints Valuev by majority decision

07
Nov

David Haye (right) connects with a hard right cross en route to his majority decision victory over Nikolai Valuev in Nuremberg, Germany on Saturday. Haye, who gave away nearly 100 pounds, wasn't as aggressive or active as he normally is, but he landed the cleaner punches and was generally the more effective fighter over 12 rounds. Photo / Chris Royle – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

David Haye finally lived up to his heavyweight expectations by out-pointing 7-foot Nikolai Valuev, seizing a major title in a largely tactical 12-round fight in Nuremberg, Germany on Saturday.

Haye, who was 9-inches shorter than Valuev and outweighed by almost 100 pounds, won a majority decision by scores of 114-114 and 116-112 (twice).

Haye, a dynamic former cruiserweight champ who stepped up to the heavyweight division with much fanfare last year, was a slight favorite to beat Valuev but many insiders believed the giant’s iron chin, experience and sound fundamentals would be too much for the smaller man.

As fast and explosive as Haye was at cruiserweight, the London native was still a bit of question mark at heavyweight, where he had only one fight of note — a fifth-round stoppage of a shopworn Monte Barrett last November. Prior to Valuev, Haye had only gone 12 rounds once, and had run out of gas in his lone loss, a fifth-round TKO to Carl Thompson.

Haye had also suffered four knockdowns in his 23 pro fights. Valuev had never been stopped or dropped in 51 pro outings.

However, Haye (23-1, 22 knockouts) answered the questions about his chin, stamina and boxing ability by taking the few flush shots Valuev landed and by sticking to an effective game plan against the 36-year-old veteran.

Haye dominated the early rounds by pot shotting the forward marching Valuev and then stepping to either side. The 29-year-old boxer-puncher landed single power punches at will as Valuev jabbed at air.

However, beginning with the fifth round, Haye’s punch output took a noticeable dip and Valuev finally began to land his long jab to the former cruiserweight’s chest.

Valuev (50-2, 34 KOs) walked his elusive challenger down during the middle portion of the fight as Haye seemed content to lob three or four wild punches, most of which caught the giant’s arms or shoulders, in each round.

After the fight, Haye explained the drop in his activity by revealing that he had hurt his right hand in second or third round.

The late rounds of the fight were difficult to score. Haye didn’t punch much but the few shots he threw in retreat landed cleanly. Valuev was ineffective for the most part but he was the aggressor for every minute of every round.

With the fight seemingly up for grabs in the final round, Haye made the only statement of the fight by staggering Valuev into the ropes with a smashing left hook.

He didn’t need to take the 12th round to win the fight, but he needed to remind fans that he has the potential to be just as exciting at heavyweight as he was at cruiserweight.

For Haye, the victory was a forgone conclusion; even destiny.

“When I was a little baby I said I would be the heavyweight champ of the world,” he said during his post fight interview. “(Valuev’s) a very, very strong man. I hit him with my best shots and didn’t hurt him until the final round.”

Haye believes his power will be more evident against heavyweights who aren’t so big and heavy and tough as the Russian veteran. Haye will get a chance to prove his theory against former two-time titleholder John Ruiz, who is the mandatory challenger for the belt he won.

If Haye can take care of the always-difficult Ruiz, who looked sharp in dispatching journeyman Adnan Srin on Saturday’s undercard, the sky is the limit for the British bomber.

He’s clearly not the best heavyweight in the world, taking a back seat — like the rest of the division — to the Klitschko brothers, but he can be developed into a worldwide attraction if he’s matched against the more aggressive big men in the sport, such as Californian slugger Chris Arreola, current cruiserweight champ Tomasz Adamek, who recently won his first heavyweight bout by destroying Andrew Golota, and undefeated 2004 Olympic champ Alexander Povetkin.

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