On this day in 2009, David Haye fought his ‘David v Goliath’ battle with Nikolai Valuev to claim the WBA world heavyweight title.
The Briton, a world champion at cruiserweight, stepped up a division to meet his Russian opponent in a bout which captured the imagination simply as a result of the relative statures of the combatants.
At 6’3”, Haye was conceding 11 inches and seven stones to a man whose giant frame had helped him win all but one of his 51 previous fights, 34 of them by knockout.
10 years ago today the 7ft2 Russian giant Valuev was toppled and I delivered on my childhood promise to my mum that I would become World Heavyweight Champion! Vivid memories of fulfilling my lifelong ambition…what are your memories of the night? #10years #wherewereyou pic.twitter.com/FtqOw6uhmN
— David Haye (@davidhaye) November 7, 2019
Such was the disparity between the two men physically, the 29-year-old challenger had cheekily suggested during the build-up that his preparations had included some unusual video research.
Haye said with a twinkle in his eye: “I’ll often watch DVDs of King Kong, Godzilla or Frankenstein, just to keep my mind on the task in hand and remind myself of the magnitude of the challenge.”
The fight took place at the Arena Nurnberger Versicherung in Nuremberg on a night when the imagery was stark.
Valuev’s 7’2”, 22st 8lbs frame dwarfed that of his opponent, but the Englishman’s mobility and game-plan ultimately proved too much for the giant Russian.
Haye landed repeatedly as he flitted in and out of range, scoring well with his left hook to sap the champion’s energy and after enduring a testing seventh round, rocking him in the twelfth to seal a majority points victory despite, as he later revealed, fracturing a knuckle during round two.
Two of the judges scored it 116-112 in Haye’s favour with the third calling it all-square at 114-114.
He would defend his title twice, against John Ruiz and Audley Harrison, before losing it to Wladimir Klitschko back in Germany two years later.