LONDON - Nikolay Valuev is used to the looks and sniggers that his huge size has attracted over the years, but the comments from his latest challenger have been particularly caustic.
David Haye, Britain's former undisputed world cruiserweight champion, has declared he is only just getting warmed up after calling Valuev "a circus freak" ahead of their fight in Nuremberg on November 7 for Valuev's WBA heavyweight title.
At 2,18m tall and 146kg, Valuev is the biggest world heavyweight champion in history and will tower over his opponent when he gets into the ring to face Haye, who is 1,87m and does not expect to be over 100kg for the fight.
Haye's trash talk might be particularly dirty, but it does not seem to be unsettling the Russian champion.
Valuev has heard all the insults before after being compared to Shrek and billed earlier in his career as "The Beast from the East".
"I am not a circus show," said Valuev. "I am a normal human being. People sometimes do not treat me like a human being because of my size and make me a sensation.
"I try to not take it personally because they do not know me as a person. My name is Nikolay Valuev, not something else."
Haye admits he thinks Valuev is "cold" and fittingly the Russian's favourite pastime is hunting.
After a short amateur boxing career, Valuev turned professional aged 21 in 1993.
He made his professional debut in Berlin and boxed in the early years of his career in England, Australia, Japan and America.
Valuev, who steps over the ropes rather than between them to get to the ring, kept winning until he took his chance to win the WBA world title with a majority points decision over American John Ruiz in December 2005.
After three defences, Valuev suffered the only blemish on his 16-year 51-fight professional record. Valuev blamed the wrong strategy for defeat to Uzbek Ruslan Chagaev on points in 2007 and has since been trained by Alexander Zimin.
After getting himself back into contention, a second win over Ruiz put the WBA belt back in Valuev's possession.
Triumph over Haye will increase the likelihood of a world title unification clash between Valuev and one of the Ukrainian Klitschko brothers, who both own the other versions of the world heavyweight title. - Sapa-AFP