Nick
Place at the Crikey sports desk writes
:

On last night’s TV news, in sports footage, you might have seen the manager of dethroned WBA heavyweight
champion John Ruiz snatching back the championship belt and trying to escape the
ring, until the bouncers caught up with him. Boxing has always been a refined
sport.

But don’t feel too sorry for Ruiz, who was
beaten on points over 12 rounds, in a line-ball judges decision. He wasn’t
exactly the Ali of the new millennium when it came to being champion. After initially losing his title, he was
handed it back when the man who’d beaten him, Roy Jones,
decided to go back to middleweight – not cruiserweight; middleweight. Then he
was beaten again by James Toney in April, only to have Toney disqualified over
a drug test. Back came the boomerang belt.

Now it has gone to Nikolay Valuev, aka “The
Beast,” the massive (213 cm, 147 kg) Russian fighting out of Germany who showed
dignity in victory, explaining the crowd’s hooting of the decision with the reasonable
observation: “I’m always fighting a smaller man, and the crowd always supports
the smaller man. But I was perfectly sure at the end I had won.”

Clearly, what has to happen now is that The
Beast will face challenger Balboa, given Sly Stallone is currently shooting
another Rocky film.

In fact, Nikolay’s story would make a
cracking movie. In simple, personal writing, he tells his life story here, revealing that he was always big –
standing a full head higher than his kindergarten mates, being as tall as his
teacher in Grade One so everybody thought he had stayed down at least a year –
but didn’t take up boxing until he was 20, after years of lumbering after
smaller, nimbler boys in sports like soccer and hockey, although not
surprisingly he was good at basketball.

Of taking up boxing, Nikolay writes: “Everything was new for me: running, jumping
with skipping rope, work in the ring with sparring partner, training of
pouch beating, fight with a shadow. It was a new world for me, absolutely
unexpected, strange but at the same time interesting.”

There’s bound to be a
rematch with Ruiz and the American might want to ponder Nikolay’s words. Has
the dethroned champ been working hard enough on his pouch beating?