Tua vs. Ustinov: David vs. Goliath
If the giant Ustinov leans on Tua and smothers him inside, he should be able to sap his strength and win by late stoppage or boring UD…
“With one punch David Tua could send a message to the Klitschko brothers. The punch will be heard in the far reaches of Eastern Europe because if he can knock out Alexander Ustinov, David Tua would have proved himself as (a) capable of beating tall opponents, (b) marketable because of his power, and (c) worthy of a title shot against Wladimir or Vitali.”—David Higgins (Duco Events)
“The interest from potential broadcasters around the world in this fight is nothing like we have experienced before.”—Higgins
“I’m boxing again because I eventually want to have another shot at the heavyweight title.”—David Tua
’‘I know that the economic benefits of something like this are quite far-reaching and they go on for a while, it’s not just on the night of the event.”—Hamilton City Councilor Angela O’Leary
George Foreman was in incredibly great shape when he stopped a game 5’5” Dwight Muhammad Qawi in 1988, but the “Camden Buzzsaw” gave an extremely solid accounting and buzzed Big George on more than one occasion. Tua’s people need to study the footage of this fight. And maybe Ustinov’s camp should take a hard and long look as well. It was competitive boxing at its best.
Freaks at the Gate
Giant Aussie Lucas Browne pounds on a slurring and bloated human punching bag that one day will enter the International Boxing Hall of Fame; limited Kimbo Slice tours remote spots in the Heartland “winning” fights against unknowns by spectacular and dramatic last-second knockouts reminiscent of Mark Gastineau’s equally onerous tour; ex-Australian rugby players beat seasoned boxers like Frans Botha via Dry Gulch-type decisions; Roy Jones continues on; and Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora behaves badly and bizarrely.
Yes, the freakish side of boxing raises its ugly head from time to time. But what do you call it when a 6-foot-8-inch, 300-pound Russian/Belarusian monster with a 28-1 record goes up against a rotund and aging 5-foot-9-inch Samoan boxer coming out of retirement a second time? Some might say it’s another boxing-diminishing freak show. However, keeping in mind the surprising degree of competitiveness between Forman and Qawi, I’ll label it “David vs. Goliath.” In this case, David’s weapon is not a sling and five stones but a potentially lethal left hook.
Speaking of Goliath, the 36-year-old Alexander “The Great” Ustinov beat American gatekeeper Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett in 2009. Barrett is the only man to deck David Tua (52-4-2) in a bout that ended in a draw that very same year. Monte then beat Tua in their rematch in Manukau City, New Zealand on August 13, 2011, after which the “Tuaman” announced his second retirement.
Looking back: 1992-2007
It was 16 years ago when David Tua went to war with Ike Ibeabuchi in what would be a non-stop heavyweight classic as the two combined to set the record for most punches thrown in a heavyweight fight. The fast-rising Samoan, known for his early and vicious KOs, then reeled off 10 straight wins with all but one coming by way of a stoppage. It took Tua just seven total rounds to get rid of Gary Bell, Shane Sutcliff, Obed Sullivan (Tua ballooned to 253 pounds for this one), and Robert Daniels (all in Nevada), setting himself up for a 2000 fight with champion Lennox Lewis at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for the IBO heavyweight title. David lost a decision in a dreadfully boring affair in which both combatants were too tentative but one in which Lewis’s height advantage played a major role in the one-sided outcome.
After the Lewis disappointment, David lost to crafty Chris Byrd in 2001 but then beat hot prospect Fres Oquendo in a sudden and thrilling come-from-behind assault in the ninth round. In what could be called the highlight of his long and distinguished career that began in 1992, he put ex-heavyweight champion Michael Moorer into a state of unconsciousness in just 30 seconds in Atlantic City in 2002—some 17 seconds longer than it took him to sedate future heavyweight champion John Ruiz in 1996—this frightening KO also coming in Atlantic City.
A draw with Hasim Rahman in 2003 visibly signalled that Tua was slowing down, though he still possessed one of the most powerful left hooks in boxing. (Tua was ranked 48th on Ring Magazine’s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time in 2003.) His career was also hampered by promotional disputes and after the Fox KO in 2007 for which he weighed a fit and ready 234 pounds, a discouraged David Tua said goodbye.
However, the Tuaman came back with a vengeance two years later and blew away Shane Cameron (23-1) in a much anticipated and much watched fight in Hamilton, New Zealand. This was Tua at his most vicious as he butchered and bloodied Cameron in a manner that was scary to witness. Amazingly, however, Cameron then came back to KO none other than Monte Barrett in an equally malevolent manner in July 2012 for the WBO Asia Pacific heavyweight title. This KO, like many of Tua’s, was of the highlight reel variety. Monte Barrett had suddenly become a measuring stick for the heavyweight division in the Pacific Rim.
After going the unaccustomed distance in four straight bouts (46 rounds) against Friday Ahunanya, Monte Barrett, trial horse Demetrice King, and Barrett again for a 2-1-1 tally, Tua again said goodbye.
“We do not want to underestimate David Tua. He’s a great puncher with a left hook. We have to be very careful and that’s why before the fight there will be no prediction (from us). This fight will be very interesting. Two punchers…”—Vitali Klitschko
Now the training-challenged Samoan is set to return for another go on August 31 and to his credit, he has picked a formidable foe. Says Tua, “I told the guys at Duco that I would fight anyone…I’m excited about the fight. The key now is to continue to work hard and make sure that come fight night I am in the best position possible to make a statement against Alexander and announce to the world that David Tua is serious about fulfilling his destiny
The rub on Tua is that, like Riddick Bowe, losing weight and getting into shape has never been high on his priority list. But possibly of more importance is the fact he is currently entangled in complex legal and financial issues that may be the real motivation for this return.
Interest in this fight is building rapidly, as negotiations with broadcasters in Germany and North America are reportedly underway, meaning an amazing potential audience for the fight of 200 million.
As an aside, Ustinov, who holds a 53-9 kickboxing record, reportedly has a background as a combat soldier and took part in four combat operations on the Chechen border where his heroics saw him awarded the prestigious Order of Courage for ‘services to the Fatherland.’ But it did him little good when he was beaten up and stopped in the 11th round by 6’4” Bulgarian beast Kubrat “The Cobra” Pulev in September 2012 in Germany.
In the final analysis, if the giant Ustinov leans on Tua and smothers him inside, he should be able to sap his strength and win by late stoppage or boring UD—that is, as a long as the giant can avoid being hit by one of Tua’s five stones.