Friday, February 26, 2010

David Tua Hunting for Big Game

David Tua (right) will square off against Friday Ahunanya next month in Auckland, New Zealand.

David Tua is likely the best heavyweight in the past 15 years to have never actually won a heavyweight title belt.

And it hasn’t been from a lack of trying.

Tua has beaten former heavyweight titlists Johnny Ruiz, Oleg Maskaev, Hasim Rahman and Michael Moorer. He even dispatched Ruiz and Moorer in less than a round.

Call it bad luck or call it something else if you want, but in a prizefighting career that began 18 years ago, David Tua has only managed to get one shot at a heavyweight belt. It came against Lennox Lewis in 2000, but the Samoan was soundly defeated in a boring distance fight.

So in a sport where title shots are handed out like Halloween candy; How come David Tua, a deserving, capable and entertaining fighter has never received as many title chances as say James Toney, Johnny Ruiz, Hasim Rahman or Oleg Maskaev?

Trying to answer that question is like trying to solve The Riddle of the Sphinx and at age 37, Tua has stopped trying to figure it all out. He resumed his career in October of last year with a devastating knockout win over Shane Cameron in Auckland, New Zealand and he hopes to get back in the thick of things this year.

The win was the just the jumpstart that he sorely needed and he is hoping to build on the momentum of that electrifying victory in 2010. The WBO has him ranked in the #3 contender position, so as long as he continues to win he will likely get another shot.

Tua is a tree trunk of a heavyweight who is nearly as wide as he is tall. When he is in condition his punches can be destructive.

Tua will square off against perennial heavyweight gatekeeper Friday “The 13th” Ahunanya on March 31 in Auckland. Tua believes a win over the Nigerian may put him back into focus in the blurry heavyweight title picture.

“If all goes well, I reckon that it should make enough noise for us to hopefully then get a title shot,” says the thickly built Tua who stands only 5-foot-10 and weighs in the neighborhood of 240 pounds.

Not lost on Tua is the fact that Ruiz, Maskaev and Rahman all went on to win portions of the heavyweight crown. But the one that really stings is Ruiz. Tua destroyed him in 19 seconds but Ruiz went on to become a two-time WBA heavyweight titlist. It is also Ruiz that will meet current WBA title holder David Haye on April 3. Tua and his braintrust would love to get the winner of that fight.

Dean Lonergan, of New Zealand’s Duco Events, is working with Tua in promoting next month’s bout against Ahunanya. The thought of getting Haye or Ruiz in the ring makes him very excited.

“Haye has said that Ruiz is going to be a tricky fight, he’s only been knocked out once,” says Lonergan. “Well the only person who knocked out John Ruiz once was David Tua in fifteen seconds. So it’s fair to say that the two combatants on April 3, I think, would be easy meat for David Tua. And they’d be perfect opponents for David Tua regardless of who wins that fight, because David Haye, in particular, he’s just a blown-up cruiserweight and I think David Tua would destroy him.”

Tua pounds away on the bag while being watched by his trainer, Roger Bloodworth.

Tua totally dismantled Shane Cameron in October. When he backed Cameron to the ropes he unloaded with a blistering fusillade of punches that were rapid, quick and totally debilitating. Cameron was rendered completely senseless. For many, it brought back all of the memories of what made Tua one of the most promising heavyweight prospects in the decade of the 90s.

Roger Bloodworth, Tua’s trainer, also feels that 2010 could be the year of the “Tuaman” and he believes that he sees something in his man that could not only get him to a title shot this year - but could see him win it, too.

“Really, there is nobody in boxing right now that punches like David,” says Bloodworth.

After long stretches of inactivity over the past decade and sporadic stops and starts (he didn’t fight at all in 2004 or 2008) Tua, whose record stands at 50-3-1 (43)KO, feels that he is now back on track. He’s of the mindset that if he gets another title chance, this time he’ll be ready.

“Oh, without a doubt, without a doubt,” he declares and then grins. “I’ll be more ready now than the first time. Whoever holds the title is who I want. Whoever and whenever. I think for us, the most important thing is to be ready for it.”

David Tua is back in the hunt.

February 2010

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