Boxing: Tua train gathers speed

By Paul Lewis

David Tua is expected to fight Friday Ahunanya, the first man to beat Shane Cameron. Photo / Getty Images
David Tua is expected to fight Friday Ahunanya, the first man to beat Shane Cameron. Photo / Getty Images

David Tua's next three fights, all to be held within three months of each other, have a double function: they keep the Tua train rolling and they enable Tua to uncouple himself from the Maori TV carriage.

Tua will fight 42-year-old 'former world champion' Bruce Seldon - perhaps most famous for being knocked out in the first round against a rampaging Mike Tyson - on February 7 in Atlantic City; then Friday Ahunanya in New Zealand in March (venue, date and other details to be decided); before a May bout against an as yet undecided opponent in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Two bouts offshore and one in New Zealand - reuniting Tua with Duco Events, the successful promoters of the Shane Cameron-Tua bout - will see Tua's deal with Maori TV as broadcaster of his fights in New Zealand completed.

That's important as Maori TV's bargain basement deal with Tua predicated against more lucrative events in New Zealand. The three fights will clear the way - one reason for the quickfire bouts.

It also clears the way for the possibility of a big-ticket bout in New Zealand involving Tua and a name fighter.

The other, more important, reason for the scheduling is momentum. Tua's fight against Cameron was big news here and undoubtedly did not go unnoticed in the US. Tua is now ranked No 3 by the WBO. But comebacks are a dime a dozen in heavyweight boxing and real attention will be paid to Tua when the train has run over a few more credible fighters.

Losing a bout would be fatal to Tua's career at this stage and Seldon seems an ideal next opponent with that in mind; he's suited to Tua's style and has enough in his boxing history to maintain a sense of growing credibility for some, even though he is 42 and has fought only B-graders lately.

Known as the 'Atlantic City Express', Seldon had a burgeoning career back in the mid-1990s. He was WBA champion in 1995-96 - having beaten some useful fighters, including former 'up and coming' heavyweights Greg Page and Tony Tucker.

Seldon fought Tucker for the WBA title after George Foreman had been stripped of it for ducking Tucker - but did not last long before Tyson destroyed him in the first round of his challenge.

At 1.87m and perceived to have a weak chin, Seldon may be ideal for Tua as an opponent that should not cause him too many problems.

But such a match-up carries its own risks as this reaction from US boxing website BoxingNews24 makes clear: "What makes the choice not particularly interesting is the age of the 42-year-old Seldon. It was thought that after Tua's impressive second-round knockout of Shane Cameron that the 37-year-old Tua would face someone a little better than Seldon. After all, Tua has said that he wants to challenge for a title in the near future.

"Seldon, however, isn't exactly the type of opponent that will prepare Tua for the likes of Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. This should be an easy fight for Tua, but it seems like a total waste of time. I see this as a regressing move on Tua's part. He might as well not fight at all rather than take another fight against an easy opponent."

The second bout, against Ahunanya, was mooted some time ago. The US-based Nigerian handed Shane Cameron the first loss of his career but Cedric Kushner, Tua's promoter, told the Herald on Sunday recently that Ahunanya - an awkward but unrated fighter - wasn't in his plans.

"I would hate it to be thought that I was being disrespectful to fighters like ... Ahunanya, as I always repect those men who step up those three stairs into the ring," Kushner said from New York. "But sometimes people are not required because there are strategic moves to be made."

Asked if Tua's next opponent would be more of the ilk of former champions Rahman, Ray Mercer or Evander Holyfield, said: "Yes. I am not going to ask David to fight Humpty-Dumpty. David's quest is to win the world heavyweight championship; if someone can enhance that quest they are more appealing."

Clearly, Kushner has struggled to find such opponents, probably for a variety of organisational, logistic and psychological reasons (Tua's power means he is not an easy man for opponents to agree to fight) and he has decided to ensure that his fighter keeps fighting, keeps winning while he looks for an opponent that will promote Tua back into the big boys' league. .

So the identity of that third fighter, in Honoulu in May, could be interesting ... and important.

- Herald on Sunday

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