Britain crowned a new world heavyweight champion on Saturday night (November 7) in Nuremberg, Germany, as David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye snatched the WBA crown from the grasp of Nikolai Valuev following 12 rounds of pugilistic dominance.
The former WBC, WBA and WBO world cruiserweight champion made the jump to heavyweight and staged a tactical and disciplined display to diffuse ‘The Beast From The East’. The Bermondsey puncher turned boxer to comfortably outbox the champion and head back to England with a majority decision verdict, via scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 114-114.
The 29-year-old Haye came good on a promise he made to his mother at only three years of age, as he successfully lifted the coveted world heavyweight title in only his 24th pro contest. In control for much of the scheduled 12-round contest, Haye never veered from his game plan and never appeared to doubt his own strategy.
Valuev suffered only the second defeat of his 52-bout pro career and was outboxed soundly from start to finish. Lumbering and lethargic at times, Valuev attempted to swat Haye, but could never land with anything more than sporadic left jabs. Unable to set up any attacks, Valuev would often fall short with his slower shots and then walk into sharp Haye counter-punches.
‘The Hayemaker’s mantra appeared to be to make Valuev miss and then make him pay. Time and time again, Haye would stand in range of Valuev with his hands by his waist, only to then tantalisingly twist and jerk his body away from impending attack. Haye was too quick, too clever and too sharp to be struck by anything Valuev huffed and puffed his way.
A big right hand in the second round, followed by another in the fifth, punctuated Haye’s impressive start to the fight. He also worked intelligently and diligently to Valuev’s body, placing sharp left-jabs to the giant’s sizeable mid-section. This tactic allowed Haye to create space for himself and also offset any attacking plans Valuev may have had.
This pattern of Valuev chasing – slowly – and Haye playing matador continued through 11 rounds. Valuev was too slow to catch Haye and the Briton was too measured and mobile to make the mistakes the Russian was praying on.
Finally in the 12th round, Haye found the big shots and desired effect he’d searched for all night. Despite breaking his hand on Valuev’s chin in the early portion of the fight, Haye was still willing to sling hard leather in the championship rounds.
Sensing he needed a knockout, Valuev stalked Haye in the final round, committing more to his shots and taking more risks. Sensing his target was becoming even larger, Haye launched a stunning left-right-left hook combination and the final shot visibly staggered the normally steadfast champion. The 36-year-old Valuev wobbled and held against the ropes as Haye swarmed in, intent on finishing the fight.
To his credit, Valuev recovered well and, with the help of some generous refereeing, managed to hear the final bell. Haye, meanwhile, celebrated his performance in the final seconds by raising his arm aloft in a premature victory lap.
Alas, despite the threat of away judges, Haye picked up a deserved verdict at the bout’s conclusion. The talented Brit received final confirmation via Michael Buffer’s uttering of, ‘From London, England…’. Haye, and the thousands of British fans in attendance, erupted into joyous scenes of celebration, well aware they’d just experienced one of the greatest overseas ring performances of recent times.
Haye moves to 23-1 (21 KO), becomes a two-weight world champion, and adds the WBA world heavyweight title to the glut of belts he won as the number one cruiserweight in the world. He also becomes the first British fighter to ever win two world titles on foreign territory, having defeated Valuev in Nuremberg and also conquered Jean-Marc Mormeck in Paris (November 2007) for the WBC and WBA world cruiserweight belts.