By Johnny Walker
A year ago in Atlantic City, heavyweight journeyman Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett (34-9-2, 20 KO) pulled off one of the more surprising and inspiring fights in the recent history of the heavyweight division when he fought comebacking veteran David “Tuamanator” Tua (52-3-2, 43 KO) to a controversial draw.
Barrett, now 40 years old, was supposed to be nothing more than cannon fodder for the Tuamanator. Going into the fight, most of the talk was about how long it would take the powerful New Zealander Tua to knock Barrett’s lights out. Most figured a round or two. “Better not be late” was the general feeling among those headed to Atlantic City for the fight.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the Tua victory party. Monte Barrett had gotten himself into amazing shape, and after withstanding a body assault from Tua in the early rounds, he began to take over the fight. By the last round, Tua was on the literally on the ropes and Barrett knocked him to the canvas for the first time in Tua’s long career. The crowd went wild, and it looked as if Barrett had scored the improbable upset.
But alas, to the astonishment of most ringside observers, the match was ruled a draw.
Now, on August 13 in New Zealand, the two men are ready to go at it again, to try to decide a winner. And if Barrett felt disrespected by the judge’s decision last summer, he surely isn’t feeling a lot better as the rematch, which has been titled “Redemption” (for Tua, it seems), approaches.
Aside from the somewhat insulting title of the bout, Barrett has also revealed in a recent interview with nzherald.co.nz that the upcoming Sky Sports PPV sees him shut out of any television revenue, while his nemesis Tua gets a cut.
“Is it fair Tua is getting a percentage of the pay-per-view and I’m not? Of course not,” Barrett says. “I’m not happy about it … But, you know what, I’m a man of my word. I signed a contract but I wasn’t given an option.”
In retaliation, Barrett has been noticeably absent from the pre-fight media build-up for the rematch. It has been up to Tua to sell the bout, which is taking place in his backyard in New Zealand, another seeming advantage for the Tuaman this time out.
“I told [promoter] Cedric Kushner I am not going to go above and beyond to promote the fight. I can promote a fight pretty good if I had to,” Barrett explained to the Herald.
“If they want to rely on Tua, then let them be. I don’t mind. It’s his country, it’s his pay-per-view. Let them do what they have to do but I’m not getting involved. Let him worry about losing weight, getting in shape, preparing for me and promoting the fight.
“I’m just going to worry about beating him.”
To that end, Barrett has once again undergone a rigorous training camp and plans on entering the ring in supreme condition to take up where he left off in Atlantic City.
“Tua is a very dominant and explosive fighter who has a big punch and [in the first fight] I was never hurt,” Barrett contends.
“He never had control of the fight. He never dictated. I dictated. I did what I wanted to. I clearly won. This time my plan is to make sure I get some respectable, good judges; to go out there and put on the best fight of my life and be victorious. “
Ever the optimist, Barrett is sure he will beat the odds and come away with a win down under on Tua’s turf.
“I don’t know if it will come by a decision or knockout. I just know at the end I will win. I have trained 110 per cent and I’m mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally invested in this fight.”
In the end, we can only wish Monte Barrett, one of the good guys of boxing, something that he hasn’t had much of in his long career: lots of luck.