Valuev stops Beck in third round to retain WBA title

Updated: June 3, 2006, 7:35 PM ET
Associated Press

HANOVER, Germany -- Russia's Nikolai Valuev retained his WBA heavyweight title Saturday, stopping Jamaican challenger Owen Beck with a right uppercut in the third round.

The biggest heavyweight in history at 7 feet and 321 pounds, Valuev sent Beck backward stiff-legged to the canvas with 1:16 left following a second-round knockdown in the one-sided fight.

A woozy Beck climbed back onto this feet, but the referee stopped the bout seconds later as he looked helpless against another flurry of punches by Valuev, 44-0 (32 knockouts). Many spectators called out for the bout to be stopped.

"My family wanted me to knock him out today, that's why I did it," Valuev said. "It was the right hand today."

Valuev took the title from John Ruiz on a controversial decision in December. Afterward, he said he hadn't thrown the right enough as he stood outside and jabbed the American with his left.

This time, Valuev buckled the knees of Beck (25-3, 18 knockouts) in the first round with the right, doing repeated damage with the hand. He threw punches non-stop once he had Beck in trouble.

Valuev said he is trying to live up to being the first Russian heavyweight champion.

"There is a lot more pressure on me now," Valuev said.

Many thought Beck -- who had lost to the only Top 10 fighters on his record and was 1-2 in his last three fights -- hadn't earned a title shot. He gave up nearly 11 inches and 80 pounds to the towering Russian.

"I didn't expect him to do the things he did tonight -- I didn't see that in the tapes," said Beck, who lives in Nashville, Tennessee. "I wanted to go home with the WBA title, but at least I came out still walking, I didn't go into the ambulance."

Valuev was fighting in small shows in his homeland until German promoter Wilfried Sauerland spotted him in 2003. After the fight, his camp was touting his constant improvement.

"People underestimate Valuev. When he finishes learning combinations, like you saw tonight, he will be awesome," said Don King, who has a piece of the 32-year-old Russian. "He will unify the division."

A fight in New York is planned for September and October. In the meantime, Valuev's camp said they will keep polishing the skill of the Russian giant.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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