David Haye is the new WBA Heavyweight Champion after clinching a points victory over Nikolai Valuev. Fighting in front of a sell-out crowd of 8,000 fans in Nuremberg, Haye was ahead 116-112 on two cards, with the third judge ruling the contest a 114-114 draw. The clash drew a sensational peak market share of 40,5 percent (8,4 million viewers) on German free-to-air giant ARD. “It’s a dream come true,” Haye enthused afterwards. “I’ve fought the biggest heavyweight champion of all time and caught him with big shots. My speed was key tonight. He has a granite chin and took my punches. I’m a guy who says what he thinks and sometimes that upsets people but I’m full of respect for Valuev, he showed he can take some big shots.”
And he added: “The title means everything to me. From when I was a baby I said I would be the heavyweight champion of the world. People doubt my skills, people know I’m a puncher, a brawler but I’ve got skills when I have to. It wasn’t as smooth as I made out but I did enough to win and that’s all I care about.”
The Russian Giant was disappointed after his second defeat in 53 fights. “The fight reminded me of a marathon,” he said. “I had to run and chase him down all the time. For me it was more like a track and field competition. I had problems hitting him, he was very fast. I think the 12th round also made the difference.”
In the final round, Haye wobbled his opponent with a huge left uppercut. Throughout the entire 12 rounds, he had used his speed to stay out of trouble while launching occasional and well-timed attacks. “The plan was to make Nikolai miss and it worked,” Adam Booth said. “David stuck to the game plan well and fought a great fight.”
Alexander Zimin called the contest “a strange one”. He said: “There was a lot of running. David was very fast and he seemed to get even faster in the last six rounds. Nikolai did not what we had trained for. His attacks were not executed well. I don´t really know what I can say about this fight – it was strange.”
Wilfried Sauerland congratulated Haye on a strong performance. “It was a very tactical fight and David´s tactics prevailed. He was running around for 2:50 in every round and then landed two punches. He has obviously watched the Holyfield fight and learned from it. He deserved to win, it was a strong performance. But I have no doubts that Nikolai will bounce back.”
Next up for David Haye is the mandatory defence against John Ruiz, who scored a seventh-round TKO victory over Adnan Serin. “Ruiz is a strong fighter, but I will knock him out,” Haye predicted.
Chris Meyer, General Manager of Team Sauerland, is looking forward to working with Team Haye. “Congratulations to David for a great fight,” Meyer said. “The cooperation with David and Adam has been exceptionally good and we look forward to working with Hayemaker during the next couple of fights.”
Also on the undercard, Scandinavian heavyweight hopeful Robert Helenius stopped Taras Bidenko, who retired after the third round. Cruiserweight star Alexander Frenkel stopped former champion Kelvin Davis in the first round. Gifted Bulgarian heavyweight Kubrat Pulev also clinched a points victory over Gbenga Oloukun.