David Tua's comeback is coming back - and he is being lined up to fight a world-ranked heavyweight boxer in New Zealand next year.
Thought to be retired after his shock loss to US journeyman Monte Barrett last year and then enduring personal issues like the end of his marriage, Tua is said to be keen to return to the ring but will not do so unless he fights a credible opponent.
In boxing, news of a comeback can induce cynicism. However, Tua has once again joined forces with boxing promoters Duco Events - a significant change that invests some authority in his return.
"We are working with David and negotiating on his behalf to find a good opponent," says Duco boss David Higgins. "We have made it very clear that we are only interested in him fighting a credible boxer - we are looking for a top four- or five-ranked boxer - as we do not think it will benefit anyone if he comes back and fights a nobody or a series of nobodies while looking for a title fight.
"We have said David needs to get right back up there if he wants to get that title fight - and, to do him credit, he has agreed. It's a big thing to consider. You could say he is fighting for his life here, as a win could well get him back on the path but a loss could end his career."
Higgins would not say any more and would not discuss likely opponents but the fact that Duco and Tua are back together is a boon. It means that Tua is likely to be fit, focused and committed to a fight, and will once again be subject to a proper boxing environment and regime - the way he has done best in the past.
Tua wants to return for several reasons: He has just turned 40 and, though age is not a barrier to heavyweight boxing these days, the clock is still ticking.He needs the money after his well-publicised, long-running and highly expensive legal battle with his former management team. A Duco-managed pay-per-view event on Sky TV netted Tua and Shane Cameron $500,000 each in their bout in 2009 - the start of Tua's comeback at that stage.He has come through his personal issues and wants, once again, to be serious about his boxing career. The loss to Barrett will not be the way he wants to end his career.
Tua is well overweight after his long lay-off; he has a long way to go to be a credible contender in the ring with a world-ranked heavyweight. However, that is exactly where a link with Duco will benefit him. It's understood trainer Lee Parore is back on board for this campaign and Parore is renowned for getting the best out of Tua.
Notably, Parore was missing from the Tua camp when he lost to Barrett. Tua appeared in the ring clearly overweight. Boxing observers at the time felt that Tua - who had decided at that stage to manage and promote himself - had lost focus and, as 'boss', called the shots when it came to matters like training. Parore, in contrast, is a tough taskmaster.
That ill-fated dabbling in self-promotion cost Tua dearly and was the culmination of further problems he had with management. He ended his long relationship with New York promoter Cedric Kushner, effectively freezing him out while Tua negotiated directly with Sky. The wisdom of that was questioned when Kushner revealed after the loss to Barrett that Tua was refusing to talk to him. Kushner said he had been unable to tell Tua that he was negotiating a $2 million bout against heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, had he won the Barrett fight.
So returning to the Duco stable is more than just a business arrangement for Tua. When a fighter manages his own affairs, he is often drawn into the commercial side and neglects what he should be focusing on: training and sparring.
There is a famous tale in boxing of former heavyweight champion Larry Holmes deciding to run his own affairs after his contract with famed and infamous promoter Don King ran out. Holmes promoted his next fight but found that he had earned the smallest amount of any of his title defences. In addition, he was exhausted as he had kept his training regime but had to work through the night to do the deals; all the hard yards of promotional work.
While the search for a Tua opponent is still taking place, one potential possibility is former Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz, ranked second in the world by the WBA. Now 33 and with only 19 pro fights behind him, Ortiz has fought no world names and is little-known here. His Cuban background (they do not allow fighters to turn professional) means he is a latecomer as a pro but is respected after more than 360 amateur bouts, of which he lost only 19.
He is also ranked sixth by the WBO and 13th by the WBC. A southpaw, he is a tall boxer with a stiff jab who can fight at range - exactly the type of fighter with whom Tua has had problems in the past (which could mean he will not be chosen) but who is exactly the sort of opponent that Tua will need to make the boxing world take notice. Another option is 41-year-old US heavyweight Tony Thompson. Also a southpaw, he has fought 39 times and (other than an early loss), he has only ever been defeated by Wladimir Klitschko, in 2008 and 2012.