Is it ever Tua late?

TuaEasy to forget just how popular and formidable heavyweight David Tua was a decade ago and how eager fans were for the trunk-like Samoan to tackle the leading fighters in the division; to oust the ageing trinity of Tyson, Holyfield and Lewis. In truth, to replace the menace and thrills Mike Tyson had ceased to deliver.

Ten years on from a two year purple patch when Tua faced and beat John Ruiz, David Izon, Oleg Maskaev and Hasim Rahman the squat contender is once again returning to a level of activity better matched to his need to stay in shape. His Samoan blood makes inactivity dangerous to his professional career, hefty weight gain – from his optimum 215-220, he was 224 for Rahman in 1998 to 252 in 2002 – suffocated his style, hampered his speed and essentially poured a two stone overcoat over his effectiveness.

Of course, weight isn’t the only issue at play. Tua’s career has been blighted by the legal case pertaining to a messy divorce from former managers Kevin Barry and Martin Pugh. The outcome complex. One clear reality is much of the $20million Tua has earned during his career has been jeopardised, lost or syphoned into businesses of which he doesn’t have control. Those wranglings essentially kept Tua out of the ring for two years and distracted for nearer three, taking him from his prime into his mid-thirties.

Crucially, he was never forgotten.

Is this why he’s back in the ring? It would be a shame if money was his only motivation, one would hope the quest to shed the tag of best modern day heavyweight never to win a title would be of equivalent value to him. Considering he has knocked out Maskaev, current WBC champion, John Ruiz – in one of the most viewed online clips – and Hasim Rahman, it is astonishing that the dynamite puncher hasn’t won a belt in these fractured times.

His latest run to the title is addressing the problems inactivity cause, by staying busy, fighting regularly, Tua is building momentum and managing his weight far more effectively. Down to 237 for his destruction of Saul Montana, Tua showed he’s lost little of his power, if he can stay busy he may yet find enough life in his legs to deliver on his undoubted ability.

Tua faces an as yet unknown opponent on October 18th Michigan, it will be his third fight in eight weeks and barring a significant step up in class, will be his 50th professional victory.

In the current heavyweight division, nostalgia is an ever present aroma. From Evander Holyfield’s unlikely title shot at the age of 44, to Vitaly Klitschko’s delayed return fans are forced to reminisce rather than extol the virtues of new, fresh, hungry young puncher.

On that landscape, Tua could still be a force. One potentiality would be a challenge to Wladimir Klitschko, the consensus king of the heavyweights, in 2008. Cedric Kushner, Tua’s promoter, is willing to drop a legal case against Klitschko and promoter Shelly Finkel, to the tune of $5million, if the Ukrainian offers Tua a title shot.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Oliver says:

    “best modern day heavyweight never to win a title”

    Define “modern day”… if you mean currently active, then I’d have to agree. But rewind a decade and I’d say Razor Ruddock.

  2. David Payne says:

    It’s contentious. Tua v Ruddock, close fight.

    I’d define modern era as last twenty years.

    Tua, Ruddock, Mercer (if you discount his early WBO victory), Ibeabuchi, Golota (the one that bust up Bowe)….

  3. Khaosai-Galaxy says:

    I’d say Tua’s best performance was in the Ibeabuchi fight (I had it a draw, i seem to remember) however he spent far too long knocking over construction workers in Indian Casino’s in the late 90’s when he could have been facing “top 10ers” in preparation for the Lewis fight.

    He has looked rotten since the Lewis fight, frankly. Fres Oquendo ran rings around him in 2002 and the mighty pair of Cisse Salif Robert Hawkins probably did enough to get something from the “mighty” Tua recently.

    No, i dont like Tua very much

  4. David Payne says:

    He was on the shelf for close to two years once recognised at Lewis’ number one contender, fighting the likes of Gary Bell et al rather than further honing his craft and staying focussed in more dangerous contests, all that is true KG. And yes, he’s walked a tight-rope in some of his comeback fights, but I think it is encouraging that he’s back to fighting regularly to build momentum and to stay fit.

    That Samoan DNA is a recipe for weight gain as well know.

  5. Khaosai-Galaxy says:

    Boring fact for the day, the reason people from the islands are prone to weight gain is purely dietary, rather than some genetic tendency. Fijians, for example officially have the worlds “most unhealthy” diet according to New Scientist.

    Anyway, Tua can obviously land a leaping left hook on anyone’s chin and knock them out anytime between rounds 1 and 12. For some reason i question his ambition to actually get in with a Rahman or even Oquendo again

  6. Samoan aaron says:

    All you guy’s posted comment on crack. First of all a good fight is knocking people down and show the crowd what david tua has accomplish in his career.I say after his lay off he was tryng to get his fight back and yes he did.Last three fight resulted all knock out and I think his ready to challenge the world title anytime.Lewis was a little bitch.A boxing ring is a stage to fight,its not a race tack like doing 200 laps in the ring hoping to land jabs and body punches.Last thing hey pop corn phart samoan DNA is a thermal acid contains uranium that it will melt your lips out of your face.

  7. David Payne says:

    Samoan Aaron,

    Thanks for dropping by. I must say my preconceptions of Samoans, as a kind, friendly, honest, hardworking and brave race hasn’t been besmirched by your contribution. I’m sure you will be relieved to here that.

    Taking your point on the Lewis fight, but boxing is a sport first. Lewis won the fight and criticism should be levelled at Tua who failed to engage too, didn’t throw shots, didn’t commit for fear of being clocked by a right uppercut.

    Tua was complicit in that fight. Whether he was injured I don’t know, I seem to remember a rumour of a torn muscle in his side, but he didn’t deliver on his promise.

    Lewis beats Tua 99/100. Tua became a one dimensional, huffing lump. Sure he had power but he forgave the stamina and speed to land it on elite performers when he went from 220 to 250 pounds.

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