Sunday, April 15, 2007

:boxing: Dethroning a Giant

Friday night, I made the prediction that Ruslan Chagaev would be knocked out by WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev early, especially if he tried to swarm him. While "swarming" might be a bit of overindulgence, Chagaev managed to at least throw some good, quick punches to score against him, leading to a surprise victory in Germany. Chagaev wasn't afraid to mix it up, but played it smart by picking his openings and staying close to him. Valuev tried, but couldn't formulate a proper way to fight him when he was up close in the first half of the match. The much shorter, lighter challenger continued to out-hustle and outgun him until the latter rounds, when all of his maneuvering and in-your-face-and-out tactics began to catch up to him, as Chagaev showed slight signs of fatigue. Valuev capitalized and began to land more shots with greater frequency. What perhaps helped nail the majority decision for Chagaev was his tenacity and conversion to counterpunching, landing a couple of hits for every jab received. The now former champ did what he could, but ultimately could not come close to stopping the faster, more agile southpaw, who fought like he truly wanted to win the title (as opposed to just folding up and becoming another tomato can on the shooting range). The commentator put it best when he said that Chagaev was "doing the dance routine of his life." All in all, a good competitive bout with plenty of intrigue to keep all the more interesting (could the smaller man pull it off, or would the giant crush him with one punch?). Don't know how well he could handle some the other champions, but based on his performance, Ruslan Chagaev has a decent-enough chance at beating some of them.

Now, for that roasted crow...

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