So Kevin and I just got back from watching Valuev's predictable demolishment of Monte Barrett at the Allstate Arena last night. The verdict on Valuev? As a boxer, neither one of us was impressed. Everything you've heard about Valuev is true. Yes, he is built like a cement mixer. Yes, he is ponderously slow. Yes, he is one dimensional (jab, jab, jab, hook--repeat). Footwork? Nope. Defense? Refer to my cement mixer comment. Ring savvy? Well, he does seem to know how to follow the game plan. I'll give him that.
And the game plan Saturday seemed to be to take it easy and let Monte look OK for a while--and then effortlessly crush him after the fans feel they've gotten their money's worth. For the first six rounds or so, it even looked like Monte had a chance. He was catching Valuev with these wild outside hooks and avoiding most of his big shots. Then, in round 10, Valuev clearly stepped it up, becoming MUCH more aggressive and busy. Knocking Barrett down repeatedly, Monte showed a lot of balls as he kept getting up. But when stunned in the 11th, Valuev charged forward with a running hammer punch, reminiscent of "The Thing" from the Fantastic Four, and crumpled Barrett brutally to the canvas. Shockingly, Barrett again arose (say what you will, this guy has heart like a mofo), but his corner mercifully threw in the towel, and the audience breathed a collective sigh of relief.
You might have thought Valuev would be the bad guy that night, but the majority Polish and Russian crowd cheered him on when he won. Like some leering howdy-doody automaton, Don King grinned and started flapping around his miniature Russian and American flags. They looked like things you might see stuck into a piece of fruit floating atop a Valuev-sized victory cocktail.
What does the Siberian Yeti have going for him, aside from the obvious? With a chin the size of Volkswagen's bumper, he appears relatively knockout-proof. He is not particularly strong for his size, but the momentum gained from the extra fulcrum of his elephantine arms lends his fists some wallop. And despite a gentle persona outside the ring (Valuev writes poetry and reads Hawthorne and Tolstoy), he seems to have the killer instinct inside it. I thought that last charging masher was going to literally kill Barrett last night.
But this guy is beatable. Klitchko would easily outpoint him if Vlad can just protect his crystalline chin. A serious puncher like Peter could probably beat him too, simply by staying busier and putting a little fear of God into him with an occasional hard right. A fight against 5'9" James Toney would be just too funny to be believed, but Valuev, who would walk through Toney's blows unless he took a hard liver shot, would give my favorite fat man a really hard time sheerly by way of his physical dimensions. I see Valuev beating Maskaev, and I think Valuev vs. Lyakhovich is a pick-em fight.
Better than the main event was the exciting undercard match between Australian Paul Briggs and Pole Tomasz Adamek. We were sitting amidst a slew of Polish Adamek fans, and the buzz sort of took us over--go Adamek! Exciting from the start, both men fought fiercely and gamely. The skill contrast between these two and their heavyweight counterparts was all-too-evident. I came away with a greater appreciation for both men, but Calzaghe still smokes either one of them.
What did this look like on television? Did we miss any good Larry Merchantisms or other on-screen antics?