Haye aims to be the first man to drop the giant Russian champion in a 16 year career and 52 fights when they clash on Saturday night in Nuremberg.
29-year-old Haye is 6 inches shorter and over 6 stone lighter than Valuev in what many describe it as a “David versus Goliath” contest.
The common consensus is that Haye’s only chance of victory is to utilise his speed advantage to out-box Valuev.
The Haymaker from London has been sparring with his trainer who has been wearing 15cm-high boots to prepare for the height disadvantage Haye will face with Valuev.
But Valuev and his team are equally defiant about his chances of winning the fight. “I am in great shape and I will take home my title with me,” the Russian said.
Haye is favourite to beat Valuev and is 28/1 to win the fight and win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
The Russian Giant, who has been in his training camp in Berlin’s suburbs, is doing everything to get ready for the bout.
“Nikolay arrived in Germany, being already in good shape. We had a few spars in Saint Petersburg, which lasted no less than eight rounds. Nikolay worked with different boxers. They were good fighters, fast, with good punches,” said, Aleksandr Zimin, Valuev’s coach.
The coach stressed that in recent times his 7ft 2in tall student has improved his boxing skills.
“Recently, he has been working in defense, he moves around the ring a lot better. In sparring, which we did in Russia, the partners often went forward. However, Nikolay was very effective in curbing their attacks,” he said.
And the sparring that followed in Germany only increased Zimin’s confidence.
“This week, Nikolay has successfully completed several lengthy sparring sessions. His partners were strong and experienced boxers. The latest Valuev ended in the ninth round, knocking down the boxer. He managed to do it through a beautiful accented stroke. This confirms that we are going in the right direction,” the coach said.
Zimin also added that finding sparring partners for the bout against Haye was no easy task.
“Haye is an unconventional enemy. There are boxers who choose attacking tactics. Others are working on a counterattack. But talking about Haye, I would not assign him to any of those groups. He tries to improvise. And we kept that in mind when choosing our sparring partners.”
Zimin, who was the head of the Soviet boxing team, became Nikolay Valuev’s coach in 2007. It was under him that the Russian Giant regained his WBA belt, beating Sergey Lyakhovich from Belarus in 2008.
David Haye also touched down in Germany today with his team, ahead of the biggest fight of his career, and was put in an hotel that was not up to his standards, according to his Twitter page. “the bed is a joke!! lol i knew these tricks would start early, no problem though!” said Haye.
These tricks Haye refers to are things boxers have had to deal with when fighting in the other guys backyard, boxers will tell you its common place, even in amateur bouts, but when the world heavyweight championship is at stake, and the prizes that go with it, anything can happen! and is possible.
Haye eventually upgraded to a beautiful 5* hotel in the local town, to eventually get some much needed sleep.
After finishing his last hard training session, 15 rounds of pure speed, power and explosive combos, Haye in defiant mood said, “Valuev’s getting destroyed and i aint joking!”
Bookies William Hill are offering odds of 28/1 that Haye will not only win the World Heavyweight championship by beating man mountain, Nikolay Valuev, but also lift the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. Hills, who make Haye 4/7 favourite to beat Valuev, a 5/4 shot in this weekend’s fight, with the draw at 25/1, currently quote Haye at 20/1 to be Sports Personality of the Year, ‘Haye most certainly has a big personality and becoming the first British World Heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis would make a hugh impact with the voters, and boxers have done well in Sports Personality in recent years, with Joe Calzaghe winning it.’ said Hill’s spokesman Graham Sharpe.
Hills report a string of four figure bets for Haye – ‘We have taken several four figure bets, the biggest so far of £3650, and although he is largely untested at this level we have no option but to make him odds-on favourite because of the public support for him’ said Hill’s Graham Sharpe.
Haye is 11/4 to ko his huge opponent with Hills who make him 5/4 to win the fight on points, while Valuev is 4/1 for a ko win and 3/1 to win on points.
Haye on points is our tip. British Boxers
By Chris Maylett