David Haye managed to win a close decision over Nikolai Valuev in Germany today, giving him the WBA heavyweight title. (Photo by Thomas Langer/Bongarts/Getty Images)
David Haye managed to win a majority decision in Germany today, beating Nikolai Valuev for the WBA heavyweight title in a typically boring Valuev bout that may have finally rid the division of the giant Russian.
To be blunt, though, Haye was very fortunate to get out of Germany with the belt. He won on scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 114-114, and a 116-112 Valuev card could have been perfectly defensible. The fact that he managed to win a title by fighting as tentatively as he did, in Germany, is almost amazing. Bad Left Hook scored it 115-113 for Haye.
Haye (23-1, 21 KO) looked mostly to land one shot at a time, circling the ring endlessly and staying as far away from Valuev as he possibly could. In fact, there's no getting around it: Haye didn't look like he wanted anything to do with an actual fight against the seven-footer. Valuev (50-2, 34 KO) pressed the action most of the night, but mostly missed his shots.
Haye did rock and nearly drop Valuev in the 12th round, and I think had he gotten him down, Valuev wasn't going to get up. Haye then took his foot off the pedal and got back on his bike. At the time, it was very easy to think he needed that knockdown, or even a knockout. It turns out he didn't.
It was a dreadfully dull fight, almost a replay of Valuev's horrible win over Evander Holyfield last December. This time, Valuev pressed more, bumrushed a little bit, and didn't just stay flat-footed at center ring. Haye was way outside the pocket most of the fight.
Haye got lucky tonight. Not that he won -- I think he won the fight. But that he was given the decision in Germany against a reigning titlist while fighting so tentatively and even scared at times. I'm openly happy that Haye won, but if I were advising his career, I keep him away from the Klitschko brothers and even tell him to just shut up about them. Watching him against Valuev, there's no way he beats one of the Klitschkos. They both destroy him fairly early, and I'm quite certain of that now.
Haye will likely make his first defense against former titlist John Ruiz (44-8-1, 30 KO), who stopped journeyman Adnan Serin in the seventh round on the undercard. If Haye gets past Ruiz, who does fight more aggressively than he used to and still has a very good chin, there are plenty of fights out there. Haye against Tomasz Adamek in a battle of former cruiserweight champions could be quite interesting and really explosive. Haye could fight Cristobal Arreola or Odlanier Solis. There's plenty. But the Klitschkos? Stay away, David.