David Haye is quite an entertaining chap, before a bout. His trash talking is sharp and sometimes witty. But apparently the Hayemaker decided before his fight with Nikolay Valuev that he'd cease being an entertainer when the bell rang to kick off the action at the Nuremberg Arena in Nuremberg, Germany on Saturday night. Haye danced, and stayed out of range of the massive WBA champion Valuev, but threw punches at such a pathetic rate, there was no way the judges could award him the decision, any longtime fight watcher had to believe. Haye briefly changed his mind with a minute left in the 12th, and he staggered Valuev with a left hook. But he couldn't close the show. Seemingly, he was certain he'd done enough to win, judging by his demeanor after 12. TSS didn't think so, seeing a draw, and one had to figure the hometowner Valuev would get the nod after a less-than-stellar tussle. Then Michael Buffer read the cards, 114-114, 116-112, 116-112 and jaws all over the arena hit the floor as Michael Buffer said..”from London, England.”
With the win, Haye must get credit for fighting a smart bout, as his movement, defense and occasional solid strikes did the job. Trainer Adam Booth and Haye crafted a wise gameplan, and even if viewers in the arena and watching on pay per view weren't rewarded with a fan-friendly scrap, Haye didn't seem to care as he held up his new bauble.
Haye (from England; 22-1, 21 KOs coming in) weighed 216.7 pounds on Friday, while Valuev (lives in Germany; ) was pounds. Haye strode to the ring with a look of determination fixed on his face. Valuev then came to the ring, and the defending WBA heavyweight champion was serenaded by a rock band which was not identified by the crack announcing team of Bob Sheridan and Benny Ricardo.
In the first, the seven footer Valuev, enjoying his foot height advantage, worked the jab to start. Haye backed up, lunged in with a jab here and there, and wasn't the mad bomber he promised he'd be. But Valuev was ponderous, as he plodded after Haye, two steps behind the Brit, who was the more effective of the two. In round two, I noticed that Valuev's back was waxed. Maybe he read Borges' piece? Haye kept moving, hurling the odd jab, a right every minute or so. A right with a 20 seconds left landed flush but didn't make the giant blink. In the third, Haye's strategy was the same. The lead-booted Valuev inched toward Haye, who scooted out of range. A Haye right was the best punch of the round, and another round of the TSS card was for Haye. In the fourth, Haye circled mostly to the left, staying calm, not expending much energy. To this point, a super smart tactical battle from Haye. But would judges in Germany agree? The giant closed the distance a bit better here. In the fifth, Haye kept away from the Valuev right, the only punch he worried about. Haye went lefty, then righty again. Why change what was working? Haye was a defensive wiz once again, but his reluctance to toss probably lost him the round. His hands were at his sides at times, and he was clearly confident that his plan would hold through twelve rounds.
In the sixth, Haye slipped jabs, moved to his left, and didn't bother to punch more than a couple times per minute. He was making it easy for the judges to give Valuev, who was basically useless but at least desirous of inflicting damage, the round. In the seventh, Haye, whether by design or from fatigue, was more often in punching distance of Valuev. Another tight round, none too scintillating for a viewer. In the eighth, Valuev was landing a right every minute or so. Haye got off a combo, but was it enough to impress the judges? In the ninth, the song remained the same. In the tenth, Haye's right was the best punch of another similar round. In the 11th, it was deja vu all over again. Same for the 12th, though Haye did hit with a right, and then a combo with 1:10 left. And then he wobbled Valuev with a left hook. A minute remained. Haye leaped in with a right, but mostly kept moving. He aimed another right, and then a clubbing left, after raising his hands in triumph. We'd go to the cards.
John Ruiz (age 37; No. 1 WBA contender; 226 pounds; of Massachusetts, now living in Las Vegas; 43-8 coming in) took on journeyman Adnan Serin (age 34; 214 1/2 pounds; living in Germany, born in Turkey; 19-10 coming in; 4-5-1 in his last 10) in the chief undercard bout. Jawny was paid to let Haye fight Valuev, and knew he'd get the winner if he beat Serin. Ruiz is now being trained by Miguel Diaz, after a few fights with Manny Siaca. Jawny jogged to the ring, briskly, looking like he was wanting to collect loan money from Serin. Ruiz said he'd not be holding this time around. Would he stick to it? Judging by the first round, yes. He kept his hands moving, against a limited foe. Instead of tossing and then hugging, he took a half step back and reset. He was in no real danger of Serin advancing on him quickly, closing the gap and getting off. An uppercut rattled Serin, but he stayed on his feet. In round two, Jawny mostly pawed with the jab, understandable since Serin's O wasn't going to blow your doors off. The right uppercut found a home once again.
In the third, the two time WBA champ Ruiz kept on keeping on. He pumped the jab, sometimes with snap. Having not fought in a year, he did have some evident rust to shed. He had a nick on his left eye, near his nose, in the fourth. Diaz took care of it after the round. But we didn't know if a butt or a punch caused the cut. In the fifth, Ruiz thought to work the body a bit more but it should've been higher on his to do list. The blood flowed to start the sixth. Serin never get excited by the site of blood. He was hurt with a minute left, and a stoppage loomed. Serin got a break for a Ruiz low blow at the end of the round. Serin's soft middle called out to be walloped but Jawny didn't hear often enough. In the seventh, Ruiz cracked with five chopping rights and got a mandatory eight, because the ropes held him up. Three more clean blows had Serin's corner throwing in the towel and the referee halted the one-sided scrap.
Taras Bidenko (lives in Germany; age 29; 26-3 coming in) took on Robert Helenius (age 25; 6-6 1/2; 248 1/2; born in Finland, lives in Sweden; 10-0 entering) in another heavyweight bout. With a win, Helenius gets a date with Lamon Brewster. He uses his reach and height pretty well. In the third, Helenius had Bidenko bloodied up. His right eye was gashed, and after the round, his corner said no mas after the doctor examined the slice.
Alexander Frenkel (age 24; 193 1/2; lives in Germany, born in the Ukraine; 20-0 with 16 KOs entering) gloved up with American Kelvin Davis (196 pounds; age 31; 24-10 entering; ) in a cruiser/heavyweight match. Frenkel got right to work, and blasted Davis out in the first. Frenkel has a nasty left, and the ref stepped in a minute in, after Davis ate a bunch of left hooks and uppercuts. Now winless in his last eight, Davis should not be licensed to fight anymore, bottom line, for his own health and well being.
In the PPV broadcast opener, German Edmund Gerber (232; now 10-0) took on Shawn McClain (216 3/4 pounds; 4-5, 3 KOs) of NYC, coming off a KO win of unbeaten Faruuq Saleem, with Mike McCallum in his corner. The heavyweights went at each other right away and McClian was down in the first off a right. He went down again, on wobbly legs, shortly after. The ref stepped in and stopped it as McClain was getting battered in the corner. Put Gerber, who punches straight, fights smart and likes to put the hurt on, on your watch list for 2011.