In Boxing News: Nicolay Valuev Smashes Faces and More

Nicolay Valuev, the new WBA Heavyweight champion, is not a beastly presence, but a thoughtful, teetotal family man says the Guardian’s Big Interview. As I’ve said before, the Big Interview is one of the best sports features available online. This week it provides some insight into a heavyweight champion who very few people in North America know anything about. By all reports, the Russian giant is a down to earth and thoughtful man. Valuev is quoted as saying, this is how I was brought up. Yes, I am a boxer and also a giant man, but a person needs to be interested not only in how to smash someone in the face or how to be a winner or where to look for the flash of a camera. Every person is more, much more, than what people see. To me, a person should be interested in surroundings and in surrounding people, because the human is not an animal. God made him for things other than fighting. I want [my son] to know and understand this, and one day he will. I have no idea if Valuev can actually fight, but – still – I’m impressed.

Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler retained his WBA super middleweight title when Canada’s Eric Lucas quit in the 10th round on Saturday.

As everybody knows by now, a soft tissue injury to his ribs has forced Diego Corrales to pull out of his much anticipated trilogy rubber match with Jose Luis Castillo (originally scheduled for Feb. 4 in El Paso, Texas). Though he is reported to be deeply disappointed, it may be a blessing in disguise for Corrales: Joe Goossen, Corrales’ trainer, said Friday that nine months would have been an appropriate rest period for Corrales and Castillo after the brutal war they fought in May. Goosen was right when he said, we talked it over with Diego and his management and promoters, and the decision was made that if he can’t spar, he can’t fight. That’s the fact of the matter. It’s killing Diego, because he wanted this so badly, but you know how it is when you hurt your ribs. How can you fight like that? An interesting footnote to this story is that Jose Luis Castillo was allegedly still a long way from making weight Benn Schulberg reported on this BLOG: sources told me yesterday that Castillo was weighing around 150 pounds at the time the fight was called off. If that was the case, then he would’ve had a hard time shedding 15 pounds in time to make the lightweight limit.

In his bid to prime up boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, trainer Freddie Roach has ordered changes. Shifts have been ordered in Pacquiao’s fight plan for his rematch with Erik Morales. The Pacquiao camp are remaining tight-lipped about what those changes might be, but Pacquiao is reported to be looking very sharp in the gym. Light-flyweight champion Brian Viloria likes the Pacman in the rematch: I see Manny winning this time and I am looking forward to a third fight … Manny’s in really great shape now and he’s worked on his footwork after seeing what (Zahir) Raheem did to Morales.

Jermain Taylor delivered the first salvo Saturday in what might become a war of words with top middleweight contender Winky Wright. Taylor, holder of three of the division’s four title belts, said he is not impressed with Wright and believes Wright is not a good draw among fans. I feel I’m bigger than Winky, I’m stronger than Winky and it’s a style thing. I don’t see (Wright) giving me any problems. I’m really not that impressed with him, said Taylor. The middleweight champion also questioned Wright’s market appeal: You put Winky out there on a pay-per-view, he wouldn’t sell one. Wrong Jermain, I’d as soon pay to see Winky fight as pay to see you. Your last two fights – your only fights of meaningful significance – didn’t exactly set the pulse racing. In fact, the only guarantee I’m paying to see either of you is if you are fighting each other.

The Independent has an interesting column on English former super middleweight Chris Eubank. Eubank, who is used to rolling with the punches, is now not only the newly crowned ‘most eccentric man in Britain’, but also bankrupt and wifeless. Says the Independent, the taxmen may yet dispossess him of his worldly goods but they can never confiscate his courage. This he showed in the ring in his two battles with Michael Watson, two with Nigel Benn, two with Steve Collins, that blood-curdling scrap with Joe Calzaghe and the final wars with Carl Thompson. He was knocked down, but he got up again in situations when lesser men might have considered timely discretion the better part of any valour. Having spent some time living in the UK at the time, it really surprised me just how big some of these rivalries were and just how much of a character Eubank was. He supposedly used to get out of his Hummer truck and wash his hands in Evian water at gas station forecourts to avoid using the tap. And still controversial, Eubank – for all it brought him – is no great advocate of the sweet science. He admits to a distaste for boxing even before the infamous night when his measured punches put Michael Watson in a coma for 40 days and left him with permanent disabilities. He has called boxing barbaric, and a mug’s game. This is not a reasonable business. You get damaged; you get disfigured; you get used. You are partaking in a tragic form of entertainment. I can hear the slurred speech of many ex-boxers. I certainly don’t want to put my sons through that. Whatever else can be said about him, you certainly can’t deny Eubank truly is an eccentric.

Finally, I’d be remiss were I not to mention the Boston Globe’s column on the renewed visibility of A.J. Liebling‘s classic boxing omnibus, The Sweet Science. Truly a must read for all educated boxing fans.

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