Boxing: Victories don't come bigger than this

Click to follow
The Independent Online

On one of the most extraordinary nights in sporting history, Britain's David Haye beat a Russian Goliath seven stone heavier and almost a foot taller than him to win the heavyweight championship of the world.

Haye, 29, took Nikolai Valuev the full 12 rounds in Nuremberg last night and was deemed to have narrowly won the WBA title on points. He did so by sticking to a game plan that consisted of keeping out of 7ft 2in Valuev's range. While the reigning champion stalked his far smaller opponent from the centre of the ring, the Briton's speed enabled him to elude the Russian's huge reach and sting him with point-scoring punches. Two judges scored the fight 116-112 to Haye, while the third made it a 114-114 tie.

Valuev, who weighs 221/2 stone, had been defeated only once in his previous 52 fights, 34 of which he won with a knockout. But the 36-year-old from St Petersburg is far from the brute his billing would imply – he wooed his wife, Galya, with poetry that he composed himself, and is a good friend of the band Radiohead.

Afterwards, Haye said he had injured his right hand early in the fight. He said: "His head is the hardest thing I've ever hit. I'm pretty sure my hand's broken, but it's a small price to pay for being heavyweight champion of the world."