Uzbeki Ruslan Chagaev is the new WBA world heavyweight boxing champion after winning a split points decision (by a 115-113 and 117-111 margin - judge called a draw) in Stuttgart last Saturday night 14th April against previously unbeaten 7 foot 1 inch giant Russian title holder Nikolai Valuev - the tallest ever champion.
Uzbek President Islam "Body Boiler" Karimov saw the benefits in boosting the nations fighting prowess and immediately awarded the victor the prestigious Buyuk Hizmatlari Uchun order for great services to his nation after becoming only the second Uzbek in history to claim a world professional boxing title. The President also gave him a Lacetti car of UzDaewoo Auto aabd national Uzbek robe – chapan and embroidered skullcap. He also awarded the Order of Jasorat order to Ruslan Chagaev promoter Klaus-Peter Kohl, and Taymaz Niyazo a member of Chagaev's received the Order of Shukhrat(Labour glory).
There is a fascinating story behind the title involving an American spy and amateur boxer named Sidney Jackson who washed up in Tashkent after leaving St Petersburg.
Until his death in 1966, Jackson trained a number of Soviet Olympic medallists. In Tashkent, boxers still complete for the Jackson Memorial Trophy each year, and a section of the city's sports museum is dedicated to him.
More here and here and here (pdf alert) ITV have a good story as well
The whole of the fight is also available on You Tube - where you can also get the benefit of comments from the shy retiring Boxing ...er... person, Don King.
There is also an interview with the victor by Uz-sport in English here ..." - "During the fight I recalled year 2000 when our President Islam Karimov blessed me and Muhammadkadir Abdullaev to professional boxing. During the fight I felt support of the President and the entire Uzbek nation. I wanted very much to justify their trust and I'm glad that have redeem the promise – won and raised high the flag of Uzbekistan." ... gives a flavour.
A fight is said to be planned for him with the planned fight in London on 26th May 2007 between the 2 British heavyweight contenders Matt Skelton and Michael Sprott.