Home News David Tua is Back, but How Far Can he Go?

David Tua is Back, but How Far Can he Go?

David “The Tuamanator” Tua is back, with all his contractual difficulties behind him and campaigning as an active heavyweight on the comeback trail. The 37 year old slugger from New Zealand demolished local contender Shane Cameron in September 2009, and followed that up with another big points win in March 2010. Now he is scheduled to return to the United States and fight journeyman Monte Barrett in Atlantic City in July.

Tua should have no problems getting past Barrett. Power is always the last thing to desert a fighter, and Tua was without question the hardest puncher in the heavyweight division during the 1990s. Barrett is a fighter who never even made it into the rankings as a fringe contender, and was largely immobile even before reaching the age of 39. He will be a sitting duck for Tua’s wrecking ball of a left hook, and unless he covers up and tries to survive, Tua should get him out of there in short order. That is no doubt what Tua’s management intended by selecting Barrett for the US debut of Tua’s comeback in the first place.

After Barrett, what next? A fight or two with a fringe contender no doubt, but in the middle term Tua’s comeback looks set to stall if he takes on a Klitschko. Although always a powerful, durable fighter with fast hands, Tua was also vulnerable to being out-boxed. The version of Tua that fought a phone booth war with Ike Ibeabuchi and set a record for the most punches thrown in a heavyweight fight had fewer problems with this sort of thing, since his superb conditioning allowed him to apply continuous pressure. It is doubtful that a 37 year old Tua can get back into that kind of shape, even though he looked trim at 240 lbs. There is little doubt that either Klitschko would be able to do to Tua what Lennox Lewis did – use height, reach, movement and a stiff jab to keep Tua from getting close enough to unload. Tua would earn a big payday, but would never be competitive in such an encounter.

What about David Haye? Tua could beat Haye. Out-boxing Tua is not as easy as it looks, and doing so requires one of two things. One is an enormous height and reach advantage, ala Lewis. Being a normal heavyweight isn’t enough, as even long-armed Hasim Rahman knows. The other is a substantial advantage in speed and plenty of slick boxing skill, as defensive wizard Chris Byrd showed. Haye is fast, but he isn’t a master boxer like Byrd. Nor is he a giant like Lennox Lewis or the Klitschkos. The truth is that he would never be able to keep Tua off him for all 12 Rounds of the fight, which means eating those terminating hooks. People already wonder if Haye’s chin is suspect, and Tua’s punches break even concrete jaws apart. I am not saying Tua would win that fight, be he would pose a serious threat to the WBA Champion.

Both Haye and the Klitschkos are dancing around each other right now. Haye is the only big money fight available to the Klitschkos, while Haye seems content to wait, gather some more experience and hope that the big Ukrainians will get old and vulnerable soon. That leaves both in search of a bankable, “name” opponent. If David Tua can knock off a ranked fighter later this year, that opponent will be him. He is really the only opponent out there with any name recognition, so look for Tua to be in a heavyweight championship fight sometime in 2011.