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Valuev, Barrett face tall orders

Valuev, Barrett face tall orders

He made an impressive entrance the other day. Now, Nikolai Valuev wants to leave a lasting impression.
Oohs and aahs emanated from the crowd as the largest heavyweight boxing champion in history headed toward the scale to weigh in for his WBA heavyweight title defense against Monte Barrett at AllState Arena in Rosemont on Saturday. At 2.1 meters (7 feet) and 147.5 kilograms (328 pounds), Valuev (44-0, 32 knockouts) stood tall in the shadow of the Sears Tower.
But he's a relative unknown to fans in the United States.
"It means a lot for me to be fighting in America," Valuev said. "This is a very important fight for me. I want to win over the hearts of the American people and I know the best way to do this is with a strong performance on Saturday night."
This will be Valuev's first title defense in the U.S. and just his third fight in the country. He won the belt with a disputed decision over John Ruiz in Berlin last December and stopped Jamaican challenger Owen Beck in the third round in June in Hanover, Germany. Valuev's last fight in the U.S. was a first-round technical knockout of George Linberger in June 2001 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Barrett has not stepped between the ropes since a unanimous 12-round loss to his friend Hasim Rahman in a sluggish fight at Chicago in August 2005, and his history against tall fighters is suspect. It includes a split-decision loss to the 2.03-meter (6-foot-8) Lance Whitaker in 1999 and a technical knockout by 1.98 (6-6) Wladimir Klitschko in London the following year. This time, Barrett is matched against a man who is 23 centimeters (9 inches) taller and about 47 kilograms (105 pounds) heavier.
"I didn't prepare myself properly for the Klitschko fight because I went over four days before and never got adjusted," Barrett said. "I always learn from losses and sometimes, those are the greatest lessons."
Barrett (31-4, 17 knockouts) spent nine weeks training in the Catskill Mountains in New York and estimated he ran 190 kilometers (120 miles) preparing for this fight.
"Big man can bring whatever he wants to the table," Barrett said. "He's never fought someone like me."
Valuev would not talk about Barrett or reveal whether he plans to go for a knockout or decision, saying through an interpreter, "It doesn't matter how it's going to happen. I'm ready regardless."
And about his size, Valuev said, "This is nature. Some people grow up big; some people grow up small. I'm not an exception. This is just the way it is."
In the main undercard bout, Tomasz Adamek of Poland (30-0, 20 knockouts) defends the WBC light-heavyweight belt against Paul Briggs of Australia (25-2, 18 knockouts) in a rematch of their bloody brawl at Chicago in May 2005. The fighters stood toe-to-toe before Adamek won the then-vacant belt on a majority decision.
Blood poured from a cut above Briggs' left eye after they butted heads in the second round, and Adamek's eye was swollen shut in the third. He also took a shot to the nose, which he had broken in training, early in the fight.
"I saw weaknesses in Briggs that were not exploited due to the broken nose Tomasz suffered in training just before the fight," said Buddy McGirt, Adamek's new co-trainer. "He looked like he was in survival mode."
With Chicago's large Polish population, Adamek had the crowd behind him and did just enough to win. And he figures to be cheered again on Saturday.
"Yes, I know there will be 6,000 Polish fans in the arena screaming for Adamek," Briggs said. "The louder they scream, the better it is for me. That gets me fired up. And in the ring? It is only me and him. Those people won't be able to block my punches."
Another bout pits heavyweight Kevin McBride, who beat Mike Tyson by a technical knockout in June 2005, against fellow American Mike Mollo.


Updated : 2021-04-17 14:39 GMT+08:00