BERLIN -- WBA heavyweight champion John Ruiz should have no
problem finding challenger Nikolay Valuev -- a 7-footer weighing 330
"He's got a head the size of a Volkswagen," Ruiz said
Wednesday. "I can't miss hitting him."
Dubbed "The Beast from the East," Valuev is 43-0 and will be
the tallest and heaviest champion of all time if he beats Ruiz
(42-5-1) on Saturday night.
The American, despite wins against former champions Evander
Holyfield, Hasim Rahman and Andrew Golota, said beating Valuev will
earn him the respect he believes he's due.
"This is an important fight for me, because after this guy it's
going to be a unification fight -- and I'm the best guy to win
unification," Ruiz said. "They'll be talking about me a lot more
if I beat this guy."
Rahman was given the WBC title after Vitali Klitschko retired
last month because of injuries.
Don King is promoting the fight Saturday, an unlikely prospect a
decade ago when Valuev traveled around Russia beating up people for
"I was a very experienced fighter -- all I needed was a good
promoter," Valuev said.
The 32-year-old former basketball player and discus thrower
found his promoter two years ago when he twice boxed on the
undercard of two fights staged by Wilfried Sauerland in Germany.
Valuev's third-round knockout of Clifford Etienne was followed
in October by a disputed decision against Larry Donald, which
earned him the title shot.
The 6-foot-2 Ruiz, who fights at about 240 pounds, says he won't
change tactics to compensate for Valuev's height advantage.
"No doubt this will be a hard fight, but I've overcome
situations like this before," Ruiz said.
Valuev has a reputation of being mobile for his size, but
without a big punch despite his 31 knockouts.
The Russian insists Ruiz's grab-and-hold tactics, used since
David Tua knocked him out inside a minute in 1996 -- won't work this
"I won't give him the chance," Valuev said. "I always use my
height -- I see no reason it should be different this time."
About 9,000 of the 10,000 tickets have been sold for the bout.
Muhammad Ali's daughter, Laila, will fight on the undercard against
Asa Sandell of Sweden.