Boxing: Haye up against Valuev’s Godzilla

Nov 3, 2009 5:02 PM
Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz |

My favorite gambling day on the calendar comes up next weekend, and I’m not referring to the two title fights Saturday, which I may have to pass on because I’ll probably be covered with losing tickets on the Breeders Cup.

The fights are interesting, yes. But it’s not like Zenyatta vs. Rachel Alexander. Oops. That’s not happening, just the same way as Manny Pacquiao is predicting the biggest possible fight, him against Floyd Mayweather Jr., won’t take place because of the latter’s safety-first attitude.

The two fights coming up could be just as dull as a nonstarter. One features the moveable object against the resistible force, David Haye against Nikolai Valuev for the least meaningful of the heavyweight titles, but the only one not held by a Klitschko.

Well after that meeting in Germany, Valuev’s home turf, there will be a rematch in Hartford, Conn., the stomping grounds of Bad Chad Dawson who is now a 9-2 or 5-1 favorite over an old nemesis, Glen Johnson.

A year and a half ago, the undefeated light-heavyweight champion scored a unanimous 12-round decision, all by scores of 116-112, against the now 40-year-old warrior. Johnson’s aggression usually means action fights, but his rally down the stretch last year has Dawson more cautious.

"The second half of the fight I got caught up in a slugging match," said the 27-year-old champion. "I plan to use my boxing skills for the whole fight."

If he can do that on Showtime – and it is not entirely within his nature to fight defensively since he seems to enjoy a good scrap – he should be able to handle the old warrior, who knows "I have to get the knockout, it’s the only way to stay away from the robbery."

Johnson is probably decent value at the buyback rate of 3-1 or more, but I’m afraid this is the end of an honorable trail for him. He’s a year and a half older than he was in their first meeting. Dawson is a year and a half more experienced and is now on the cusp of most top ten pound-for-pound lists.

Haye, the English former cruiserweight title-holder, is facing a "monster" in the 7-foot, 315-pound "Beast from the East." At 6-feet-3, and maybe 215 pounds, Haye said "I’m punching up for the first time and I have to almost leap with my punches."

The odds say he will be jumping for joy. The 29-year-old Haye is about a 2-1 favorite, even in Germany where Valuev fights for Willie Sauerland (and a bit for Don King). Haye can punch, as witness the 21 knockouts on his 22-1 ledger. But his chin is somewhat suspect. He was stopped in five rounds by Carl Thompson, a world-class cruiser, in 2004 and wobbled a few other times.

Valuev, despite 34 KO’s on his 50-1 record (the loss was to Ruslan Chagaev in one of the dullest fights on record), has little snap in his punches. The only way he stops Haye may be by tiring him out with clinches and leans.

Haye, who will be spotting seven inches of reach to Valuev, has not been studying films of such as Evander Holyfield dealing with the big Russian – Valuev’s last fight, almost a year ago, ended in a controversial decision over the old man. While Haye has been idle even longer, he said he has been studying monster movies – "King Kong, Godzilla or Frankenstein, just to remind myself of the magnitude of the challenge.The more you watch regular human beings getting terrorized by oversized monsters, the more you can accept this fight with Valuev as normality and it’s no longer so scary."

Haye knows he’ll have to attack. "Nobody ever ran away and outpointed Godzilla or King Kong over 12 rounds," he said. But unless he calls in air support, I’m not going to give him cash support. On the other hand, though Valuev will not be facing angry villagers with pitchforks and torches, his buyback rate of 8-5 or so is not tempting. When was the last time King Kong or Frankenstein won a battle? (I’m not sure about Godzilla and his bout with Mothra).

Zenyatta against the boys may be more to my liking next weekend.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Michael Katz

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