7-foot former heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev has commented on quotes attributed to WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko and former WBO heavyweight champion Sultan Ibragimov implying Valuev may have been set up by his co-promoters, Sauerland Event and Don King Productions, into taking a fight against David Haye that was not in his best interests. It was also revealed that there was a rematch clause in the Valuev-Haye deal, so expect a rematch after Haye’s mandated bout with John Ruiz.
“To avoid confusion or misunderstandings in this situation, I would like to note that my American promoter Don King was opposed to me fighting David Haye,” Valuev wrote on www.box-way.ru, a site run by Valuev and his manager Boris Dimitrov. “In fact, Don King was upset when he learned that I had agreed to fight Haye. My German co-promoters [Sauerland Event] did not inform Don King while the negotiations for this fight were being made. In the press, allegations that the American promoter supported this fight are unfounded and false. The choice of the opponent was made by Wilfried Sauerland. The idea to make this fight with David Haye came from Sauerland Event.”
Team Sauerland believes there was nothing wrong with picking David Haye as an opponent for Valuev.
“After negotiations with Vitali Klitschko had fallen through because he would not get back to us, we were looking for a new opponent for Niko,” Team Sauerland General Manager Chris Meyer said. “After Chagaev got beaten, Valuev had to fight Ruiz in a mandatory defence, but Niko had already beaten him twice. This bout wasn’t marketable at all. That is why we considered a showdown with up-and-coming David Haye the far better option.
“All parties, and that includes Niko, his coach and our partner Don King, agreed to the bout as there was no real alternative. As the split decision indicates, it was a very close fight. We expected Niko to dominate late in the fight, and had he won the final two rounds, he would still be the champion. But David Haye put on a great performance and left the ring as the winner. The contracts do guarantee Niko a rematch and we are sure the outcome will be different when the two meet again.”
The Russian Giant lost his WBA Heavyweight Title on November 7 when the British challenger clinched a majority decision in front of a sell-out crowd of 8,000 fans in Nuremberg. The fight also drew a TV market share of more than 40 percent in Germany.