BOXING : David Haye produced a punch-perfect performance to cut Russian giant Nikolai Valuev down to size and win the WBA heavyweight title in Germany on Saturday night with a majority decision points victory.
David Haye produced a punch-perfect performance to cut Russian giant Nikolai Valuev down to size and win the WBA heavyweight title in Germany on Saturday night with a majority decision points victory.
The Englishman was attempting to the fill the boots left empty by Lennox Lewis’s retirement in 2003 by winning a portion of the one-time ‘richest prize in sport’ at the Arena Nurnberger Versicherung.
And Haye executed his gameplan perfectly, keeping out of Valuev’s range while picking the champion off when the opportunity presented itself to cruise to a seemingly clear victory – with two of the judges awarding him the win by four rounds but the other somehow seeing it a draw.
Valuev stalked Haye from the centre of the ring from the first bell with the Englishman looking to land quick shots and get out of harm’s way. Haye landed a few single blows and took little from Valuev, landing a nice left hook and later a solid left-right double.
Despite Valuev’s huge reach advantage, it was Haye landing the point-scoring punches as a left hook – thrown upwards to reach Valuev’s head – hit home cleanly while a right hand also connected in the second session.
Valuev finally landed a punch of note with a stiff jab in the third only for Haye to sting him with another perfectly-executed left-right before moving out of range again. And he continued to slip and slide out of trouble with another arcing left hook catching Valuev sweetly in the fourth.
A three-punch combination from the Englishman seemed to have an effect on Valuev in the fifth, while the sixth saw another left lead from Haye find the spot. Valuev then had by far his best round in the seventh and it was arguably the first he had won, but Haye stole a quiet ninth round by feinting with the left before driving a big right down the middle straight onto Valuev’s non-plussed face.
Haye was back to his best in the 10th, boxing off the back foot and landing the left hook, while the champion appeared more tentative in the 11th – perhaps being discouraged by the stinging shots coming the other way.
Heading into the final round, Haye appeared to have a clear lead. He upped the ante in style, however, landing another left-right but it was two huge left hooks which seriously rocked Valuev for the first time in the fight as the champion wobbled. Haye could not find the early finish but was happy to raise his arm in celebration with the final bell imminent.
And when the scores of 114-114 (even) and 116-112 twice for Haye were read out, the new champion’s childhood dreams were realised with a majority points decision.