Boxing: Kiwi gets a shot at the big time

By Paul Lewis

While David Tua is set to leave New Zealand today to prepare for his July bout with Monte Barrett, another New Zealander - Australian-based heavyweight Kali Meehan - will know whether he is in line for what Tua wants: a world title shot.

Meehan was fighting in Rostock, Germany, overnight - taking on former WBA titleholder Ruslan Chagaev.

Meehan, top-ranked challenger in the world by the WBA, has never had Tua's credibility in the ring but, as a fighter in the stable of the once all-powerful and renowned promoter Don King, he is getting a look at the big time.

While WBA champion David Haye looks for a world heavyweight unification meeting with Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko in the autumn, he may first have to fight the winner of this bout.

The Uzbekistani (25-1-1, 17 KOs) meets Meehan (35-3, 29 KOs) to determine Haye's next mandatory challenger.

Meehan has won six in a row since a fourth-round knockout loss to former champion Hasim Rahman in 2004; Chagaev, a southpaw but not a big man, shares with Haye the distinction of being the only other heavyweight to defeat Nikolai Valuev.

Chagaev lost last time out to Wladimir Klitschko, stepping in as a replacement when Haye pulled out with a back injury.

Both Chagaev and Meehan have insisted this week that they are pushing for a contest with Haye, and have him in their sights.

However, the sight of Meehan lining up for a possible title shot must be a little galling for Tua. Meehan has not beaten a fighter of real note and he was one of those calling Tua out in recent times, before the bout with Chagaev was arranged.

The biggest names on Meehan's record are US heavyweights Lamon Brewster and Hasim Rahman. Both beat him, Rahman with a fourth round TKO.

Meehan's third loss was in a Commonwealth title fight at the hands of UK heavyweight Danny Williams.

However, Meehan could yet still be associated with Tua's comeback ... if he loses against Chagaev.

He will still have enough height in the rankings to make him potentially an attractive candidate for a Tua fight, maybe here in New Zealand after the Maori TV obligations are discharged.

Tua needs credibility as, although he is ranked 2 in the world by WBO, he does not figure highly in the rankings of the WBA, WBC or IBF.

If Meehan wins, he will hang out for a mandatory shot at Haye. Lose, though, and as long as it suits the manipulative King, Meehan could be a possible candidate for a Tua fight.

- Herald on Sunday

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