Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Boxing: Tua delay won't help Ustinov

As Alexander Ustinov once again met David Tua in the countdown to their heavyweight clash, the focus went on how the delay caused by the Kiwi-Samoan's calf injury has affected the giant Belarusian.

The short answer is: Not well.

Originally scheduled for the end of August, the pair will finally meet at Claudelands Arena on Saturday, November 16. In between times Ustinov has been forced to fly to and from Russia and cope with the attendant climate and time zone changes.

A hint of his camp's frustration could be heard at the press conference in Auckland this morning.

"I can't say it [the delay] was a bonus for us,'' Ustinov's coach Vladimir Zaderan said.

"I would rather have done the fight then because you plan and prepare for that certain date. We have had to start all over again. There's a big difference in time zones and climates as well, so he is still recovering.

It would have been easier to fight back then.''

To make matters worse, Ustinov's sparring partner, Australia-based heavyweight Alex Leapai, has suffered a neck injury and the pair were unable to spar yesterday (Wed). It is understood that Leapai's problem is not serious.

For Tua, the delay has been a bonus. He has used the extra two and a half months getting into an impressive physical condition after letting himself go following his last fight - a points loss to Monte Barrett in 2011 - so it was a fitter and slimmer Tua that Ustinov met today.

Tua's fitness coach Lee Parore said his man would continue to work hard over the next couple of weeks. Henry Schuster, Tua's trainer, said he had been working on different ways of counter-acting the 2.02m Ustinov.

"It's going to be hard for David, but we've got things in place to counter that [size]. There's more than one way to skin a cat,'' he said.

Tua will give away 24cm to Ustinov, but as he has said before, almost everyone he has fought has been taller than him.


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