April 14, 2007
By Wolfgang Schiffbauer
Photos: Eroll Popova
After twelve great rounds of action at the Porsche Arena in Stuttgart, Germany, challenger Ruslan Chagaev turned into a champion, defeating Nikolai Valuev, the tallest heavyweight champion ever for a deserving majority decision.
The first round started slowly, as Valuev tried to find the range with his jab. It was Chagaev, however, who was having success with good straight left hands out of his southpaw stance. Chagaev continued to circle around the champion in the second and was again able to find the target with some good straight shots, while Valuev was pressing the action by fighting mainly with his jab.
In the third stanza, it was again Chagaev who was mounting quick attacks to the body and the head of Valuev. But the "Russian Giant" was able to get his jab working a bit. It was however target practice for the first three for Chagaev's left straight. The same picture repeated in the fourth, as Valuev was moving forward but not landing often. Chagaev again connected with straight lefts to the body and the head of the seven-foot WBA titlist.
The challenger had excellent rounds in the fifth and sixth, countering and landing power punches. Valuev's jab was still short in the seventh and Chagaev was starting to show some good reflexes as he was ducking the punches of the champion and time after time countered with great shots.
For the very first time in the fight, Valuev started to connect more regularly with his shots in the eighth. Chagaev was waiting a lot at the ropes and it seemed like he wanted to take the eighth off a bit. Round nine again went to Chagaev, who fought the same way like he did in the first few rounds and had once again great success with it.
The mandatory challenger continued to outland the huge Valuev in the tenth. Going into the championship rounds, it seemed to many ringside observers that Chagaev already had the fight in the bag. However, in the eleventh, "The White Tyson" landed his best punches although he still couldn't hurt the durable champion.
The twelth and final round turned into a wild slugfest as the atmosphre in the packed arena became electric. It was close, but at the end Chagaev hurt the giant to capture the round. After twelve exciting rounds of heavyweight championship boxing, the judges scored it 114-114, and 115-113, 117-111 in favor of the winner by majority decision and new WBA heavyweight champion of the world Ruslan "The White Tyson" Chagaev.
Valuev suffered the first loss of his career, as he falls to 46-1 with one no-contest. Chagaev stayed unbeaten and his record stands now at 23-0-1.
Chagaev spoke briefly after the fight, thanking his fans, countrymen and promoter among others before walking over to congratulate Valuev. The former champion was gracious in defeat. "I agree with the decision of the judges," stated Valuev. "My opponent found a tactic with which he was successful. Now I'll take a break and then begin training again."