Friday June 18th, 2010

A lack of top talent has made big heavyweight fights a thing of the past. And these days the inability of rival promoters to make big deals with each other has made it impossible to make palatable small ones.

The latest example is the increasingly acrimonious negotiations between Don King, who represents former WBA champion Nikolai Valuev, and K2 Promotions, which represents WBC champ Vitali Klitschko. The two sides have been going back and forth for months trying to make a fight between two of the biggest fighters (Valuev is 7-foot; Klitschko is 6-7) in boxing history.

Buit little progress has been made. This despite a bizarre move on Thursday that saw King send out a press release accepting K2's $2.5 million offer for Valuev.

"Due to many incorrect representations in the past, I want to make it perfectly clear that K2 Promotions has offered Nikolai Valuev $2.5 million to face Vitali Klitschko, and on behalf of Team Valuev, we are accepting their offer," King said. "Nikolai Valuev is the pride of Russia and the Russian people, and he wants to fight for his country and his fans. I hope K2 keeps their word. I hope we are done with the excuses, be they physical, financial or otherwise. Let's get it on. Let's go to the mat. My man Niko is going to knock Vitali out."

The problem is the $2.5 million offer was made months ago, when K2 had a soccer stadium lined up for the venue. That venue is no longer available, and according to Klitschko's manager, Bernd Boente, neither is the offer.

That [offer] was eight months ago for a stadium fight," Boente wrote in an e-mail to SI.com. For weeks we [have] offered them $1.5 million and that's it. That's still more than [Valuev] gets or has goten in any other fight. Valuev is coming off a clear defeat against [David] Haye, and all but the judges saw a loss against [Evander] Holyfield.

This a typical King game. He has nowhere to go. Valuev has two options left: fight Vitali or fight Haye in a rematch."

Boente said the two sides will continue to negotiate but stressed that the $1.5 million offer they made to Valuev was final.

"We will definitely not raise the money," said Boente. If Valuev wasn't over 7-foot we wouldn't even discuss a fight. He can take [the money] or fight Haye again."

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