Valuev: “This is a New Start for Me”
Nikolai Valuev completed a successful return to the ring on Saturday night when he clinched a unanimous points victory over Jean-Francois Bergeron.
In his first fight since losing the WBA belt to Ruslan Chagaev, the Russian Giant cruised to an uncontested 118-111, 117-111, 118-111 verdict against the previously unbeaten Canadian.
Valuev strongly went for the kill in the last two rounds but Bergeron proved his heart and refused to give in.
“I am pleased with my performance tonight,” Valuev (47-1, 34 KOs) said. “I would have loved to win by knock-out but it wasn´t possible. It doesn´t matter, though. Going twelve rounds against a southpaw was a good test. This was a new start for me.”
Valuev controlled the center of the ring from the first bell on, making good use of his jab to keep the NABA-champion at bay.
Bergeron (27-1, 19 KOs) fired in his southpaw left several times, with his biggest shot coming in the middle of the second round. Little did it help to impress the Russian Giant, who kept marching forward. The former WBA champion picked up speed in the last third of the fight.
After punishing Bergeron with a huge right uppercut to open the penultimate round, Valuev clobbered his opponent through the ring in the last three minutes, showing great mobility and quickness.
“If he had started out like he fought during the last two rounds, Bergeron would not have lasted until the second half of the fight,” manager Wilfried Sauerland said afterwards. “His new coach promised to make him more exciting to watch, and you could clearly see that towards the end. I think Niko moved very well but certainly he could have punched a bit more.”
Bergeron congratulated his opponent on a “great bout”.
“He is a tough guy, a former world champion. I think we made a good fight,” the Canadian said. “He hit me a couple of times but I think I proved my heart. I came here as a huge underdog but proved that I am a world-class fighter and could keep up with him. I am very happy about my performance.”
The sell-out crowd of 4,000 fans in Oldenburg acknowledged his spirited showing with ovations at the end. Support - not to say sympathy - is nothing new for Valuev´s victims.
“The crowd usually feels sorry for my opponents,” Valuev said. “I don´t have a problem with that at all. Fans expect my opponents to get torn into pieces when I hit them - like after a shot from a tank. But that doesn´t happen in boxing.”
Next up for the WBA´s top-ranked fighter will be the final eliminator to challenge Ruslan Chagaev. In early 2008, Valuev is expected to battle it out with number two, Sergei Liakhovich. A rematch with Chagaev could then go down in April or May, according to manager Wilfried Sauerland.
Until then, Valuev vowed to keep working hard: “Today was the first step to win back my title.”
On the undercard, cruiserweight hopeful Alexander Frenkel (13-0, 9 KOs) easily outpointed Michael Alexander (12-2, 8 KOs) in an eight-rounder, while super-middleweight Vitali Tsypko (21-2, 11 KOs) comfortably saw off David Gogiya (18-3, 4 KOs) in twelve rounds.
KO Corner News • Organizations • WBA • Weight Classes • Cruiserweight • Heavyweight • Super Middleweight • Nikolai Valuev • Ruslan Chagaev • Vitali Tsypko