David Tua is a notorious heavy-handed slugger with the hardest left hook in recent boxing history. In fact, I'd say that Tua has the best left hook since Mike Tyson, whose style he attempts to emulate. The Tuaman launched a comeback in 2009, knocking out Shane Cameron in two rounds. Then he got a relatively close decision win over Friday Ahunanya on March 31, 2010.
Tua's comeback hit a bump in July 2010 when he climbed in the ring with Monte Barrett-- a limited, 40 year-old journeyman fighter on the verge of retirement. Most fans expected a quick Tua knockout, but Barrett surprised everyone by surviving David's early assault. He even dropped David in the 12th round, becoming the first fighter to knock Tua down. Unbelievable.
Tua's most recent fight could be good or bad, depending on how you view it. Last March, he fought Demetrice King, a wobbly journeyman fighter with a pitiful record. In the fight, Tua showcased some real boxing skill. He was jabbing, working the body, and throwing uppercuts--his hands were constantly busy. I was delighted to see this. Here's why.
After his controversial loss to Ike Ibeabuchi in 1997, Tua became a one-trick pony, relying on knocking his foes out cold with a left hook. He gradually abandoned body punching and other techniques; he became all about the left hook. This is what cost him in his world title shot against Lennox Lewis in 2000. Lewis is cocky, but he was right when he said "It takes more than a left hook and a haircut to beat Lennox Lewis." In the fight, Tua plodded forward, looking to end things with one monster left hook. He didn't work the body, he didn't throw many uppercuts, he didn't cut the ring, no combinations...nothing. I feel cheated because this is a fight that Tua could have won. All he had to do was throw more punches.
Joe Frazier knew how to set up his vaunted left hook. Sometimes he'd throw it in combinations so his opponents didn't see it coming. David Tua should take note.
While David looked good against Demetrice King a few months ago, he didn't knock him out. That worries me. I think his power is fading. He hasn't had a knockout since 2009. His chin also has some cracks in it, evidenced by the fact that Monte Barrett decked him. Though Tua is improving his boxing skills, his power and chin are well on the decline. For these reasons, he'd get killed against the Klitschko brothers. If he fights the way he did against King, then his best chance to win a title would be to fight Evander Holyfield. Both fighters are horribly washed up, but I think Tua's punch would be too much for an old, fragile fighter like Holyfield. It's the only fight I'd like to see in the current heavyweight divison, and it'll only happen if Tua gets by Monte Barrett.
I have to be honest-- I think Monte Barrett is going to win this rematch, probably by knockout. Monte is not a good fighter, but he made Tua look awful. He knows how to handle Tua in the ring. He knows that Tua can't knock him out, and he realizes that he has the punching power to floor him. Barrett has a psychological edge here. Making things worse is that Tua sometimes submits once the pressure is turned on.(See his disappointing fights with Lennox Lewis and Chris Bryd.) I predict that Barrett is gonna come out and plan to detour David with his long jab and his crushing uppercuts on the inside. He's going to come out firing and moving.
There are two outcomes--Tua will win by decision or less likely by knockout, and then go on to face Holyfield and possibly win a world title. (Finally) Or, Tua will get outboxed and/or knocked out by Monte Barrett, leading to both men retiring. Tua will be 40 years old later this year. I'd like to see him at least win one heavyweight championship. It's now or never.
That's not the only big fight of the summer, though. WBA champion David Haye will get his biggest test yet when he climbs in the ring with Wladimir Klitschko. I'm predicting a win for Klitschko, and I have my reasons.
First of all, Haye has never fought anyone in the league of Wladimir before. He's conquered awkward giants like Nikolay Valuev, but the Klitschkos are the best on the scene now. They're huge and they train hard. Stamina is never an issue for them, and, like Lennox Lewis, they move moderately well for men their size. More importantly, Wladimir has Emmanuel Steward in his corner. Steward is the best trainer of the last 20 years, in my opinion. He has brilliant strategies, enjoying success with Evander Holyfield and Tommy Hearns. But his biggest success was guiding the career of Lennox Lewis; the two were the perfect team--a modern version of Jack Blackburn and Joe Louis. Emmanuel has been repeating his success with the Klitschko brothers in recent years.
To cut it short, I think Klitschko will use his reach and experience to outbox and outmaneuver the smaller Haye, and then knock him out later. Manny Steward will find a weakness and have his fighter exploit it when the time is perfect. David Haye has a great punch and could crack Klitschko's average chin, but I honestly don't think he has the skills to do so. I doubt Wladimir will put himself at risk. But...it would be nice if Haye wins. If that happens, then we could be on our way to having an undisputed champion.