Both Nikolai Valuev and Ruslan Chagaev claimed to be the true WBA heavyweight champion when they met at a press conference in Helsinki today. Their May 30 showdown will be more than just the first-ever heavyweight title fight on Finnish soil. It will also be the chance for the Russian Giant to avenge the only loss of his career, which came in April 2007 when Chagaev shocked the boxing world by clinching a close majority decision. “I am coming to Helsinki to show that I am the real champion,” Valuev (50-1, 34 KOs) said. “I have made a lot of key changes since the defeat two years ago. I have appointed a new head coach, Alexander Zimin. He has changed my training routine completely and has made me a much better fighter. I have improved a lot. I have no doubts that I will leave the ring victorious this time out.”
Valuev has been waiting for the rematch for a long time. As the WBA´s mandatory challenger, he was scheduled to take on Chagaev on May 31, 2007. However, an injury forced the Universum fighter to postpone the fight. When Chagaev also pulled out of the second meeting on July 5 due to an Achilles injury, the title was vacated. Valuev defeated John Ruiz in August to win the vacant title, with Chagaev being named “champion in recess”.
On Tuesday, the 30-year-old Uzbek (25-0, 17 KOs), who had returned to the ring in February with a victory over Carl Davis Drumond, showed what he thinks of his current title, pasting over the “in recess” line on his name tag. He had also printed “The Real Champion” on the back of his t-shirt. “I have beaten Valuev once and I will beat him again,” he said. “I don´t understand what all that talk is about. I am the champion.”
Valuev was unimpressed by Chagaev´s remarks, and Kalle Sauerland made clear that the WBA officially lists Valuev as the “WBA heavyweight champion”, with Chagaev being the “champion in recess”. Sauerland also said he expects a gigantic interest in the fight. “This will be a global happening which people all over the world will be eager to see,” he stated. “We expect a worldwide TV audience of roughly 100 million people.”
Tickets will be on sale on May 4.