Tue, Oct 10, 2006 - Page 18 News List

King says Valuev could unify heavyweight belts

AP , ROSEMONT, ILLINOIS

Nikolai Valuev raises his fist after scoring a technical knockout in the 11th round against Monte Barrett in their fight in Rosemont, Illinios, on Saturday.

PHOTO: EPA

He is the largest heavyweight champion ever and is closing in on Rocky Marciano's perfect record, yet Nikolai Valuev is boxing under a cloak large enough to conceal his massive frame.

Maybe now he can discard it.

The 2.13m, 149kg Valuev stopped challenger Monte Barrett in the 11th round on Saturday night to retain the WBA title and remain undefeated.

"It has been my dream to get a world title [fight] here in America," Valuev said.

Promoter Don King has a different goal: to unify the heavyweight belts. And he reiterated that desire on Saturday.

He said IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko has a "weak heart and weak chin," while praising Valuev, WBO champion Sergei Liakhovich and WBC titleholder Oleg Maskaev. He also said unifying the belts would give the division an identity it's been lacking.

"The people and the public have to demand that each one of these champions fight each other," King said.

Is Valuev at the level of the other three champions?

"Yes, definitely," said Wilfried Sauerland, his manager and co-promoter.

Valuev is tentatively scheduled to fight on Jan. 27 next year, but Sauerland was not sure where the bout would take place or who the opponent would be. If it's part of a unification series, great.

For now, the only thing set is this: Valuev (45-0, 33 knockouts) plans to spend two weeks in Germany, getting therapy on his surgically repaired knees, then resume workouts in St Petersburg, Russia.

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