by Johnny Walker
When former heavyweight contender David “Tuamanator” Tua decided to make one more run at a heavyweight title earlier this year, his old foe, and the man who defeated him in Tua’s last fight, American veteran Monte “Two Guns” Barrett, expressed cynicism at Tua’s decision to return to former promoters Duco Events for his comeback.
Barrett, who still very much desires a third encounter with Tua after two close, controversial and often thrilling fights, called Duco Events’ David Higgins and Dean Lonergan “Dumb and Dumber” in an recent exclusive interview with Boxing Insider, and insisted that the promoters were ready to throw an unprepared Tua to the wolves as soon as possible for a final payday out of the aging fighter.
“The bottom line is, [Tua’s] gotta fight me,” Barrett told Boxing Insider.
“And if he’s got ‘Dumb and Dumber’ to guide his career, he’s gonna go in the trash can. These guys will get him beat, they don’t care anything about him — [Duco Events] are big fans of boxing, they’re good businessmen, but they don’t know anything about boxing.”
Barrett’s opinions look even more accurate now with the news that Duco has chosen 6’8” tall Russian Alex Ustinov as Tua’s comeback opponent on August 31 in Hamilton, New Zealand.
Tua, who is generously listed at 5’10” tall, has ballooned to well over 300 pounds at times during his latest sabbatical from boxing, during which he dealt with bankruptcy, near-homelessness and a divorce from his ex-wife Robina, who had also served as his manager.
Tua has also experienced problems with taller fighters in the past — the 6’3″ Barrett was able to keep him at bay with a sharp left jab, and Tua similarly experienced little inn the way of success when he took on 6’5″ tall champion Lennox Lewis.
Ustinov, while he is managed by the Klitschko Brothers’ K2 promotions, is indeed no Klitschko brother skill-wise: but given his sheer size and strength, he is still a formidable opponent.
Ustinov’s only loss was in his last fight, where he was stopped by rising contender Kubrat Pulev of Bulgaria, perhaps the top heavyweight in the world not named “Klitschko” right now. But Pulev is 6’5″ tall himself and able to stand in with anyone currently in the heavyweight division with confidence.
The word out of New Zealand is that Tua has been working with fitness trainer Lee Parore, and is rapidly approaching a fitness level not seen since his demolition of Shane Cameron in 2009 (the last time Tua worked with Parore). Parore is putting Tua through the physical paces in an attempt to rid him of extra bulk and getting him ready for a major challenge coming off of a protracted vacation from boxing after the loss to Barrett.
“All the weight he had put on was a symptom and we had to look into what was causing that; we had to get his diet together and we are still fine-tuning that,” says Parore.
“David has dropped 20kg [about 40 pounds], is training really well, twice a day on many days and doing some hard work, handling a real workload and then coming back the next day and doing it again.”
There is no doubt that a David Tua who is firing on all cylinders can give anyone problems, even a giant nearly a foot taller than him. Even in his last loss to Barrett in New Zealand, he left the American with a broken jaw to take back to America for his efforts, thanks to his crushing left hook.
But still, the words of wise old veteran Barrett cannot be dismissed:
“For Tua to be in the game for eighteen years and he doesn’t know better, he’s just ‘duuuuuuh,’ he’s just a brute, a big klutz,” Barrett sneers of Tua walking into a comeback fight that he considers literally and figuratively over the New Zealander’s head at this point.
A loss this time and Tua’s career is definitely over: even his own promoters admit that.
“He needs to sit down, collect his thoughts, and think, ‘What am I doing?’ [But] Tua’s not a thinker, period,” Barrett laments.
We’ll soon find out exactly who was “dumb and dumber” in this scenario.