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Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko: Can David Tua Stop the Champion Brothers?

By Geno McGahee

On March 15th, 1996, HBO featured a triple header with six heavyweight hopefuls colliding.  The opening bout was a match between John Ruiz, a Massachusetts heavyweight that had won 25 of his 27 outings, and the slugger, short and compact, winner of all 22 of his bouts, David Tua.  A left hook sent Ruiz reeling early, and a barrage of punches would end it just 19 seconds into the round.  It sent a message to the division.  There was a champion coming out of this fight, but amazingly, it wouldn’t be Tua.  Ruiz would go on to hold the title on two occasions. 

The career of David Tua is a curious one.  He is a fighter that has demolished men that would go on to be champion, but never came close to winning a title himself.  Tua, 51-3-1, 43 KO’s, has beaten former WBC Champ Oleg Maskaev (KO -11), former 2-Time Champion Hasim Rahman (KO-10), former Undisputed Champion, Michael Moorer (KO-1), and Ruiz (KO-1). 

Part of the reason has been his weight, and it may have been the biggest factor.  He started his career at 201 pounds.  He beat Ruiz at what many see his best weight, 225 pounds.  When he finally landed his title shot in 2000 against Lennox Lewis, he came in at 245 pounds and didn’t have the speed or mobility to have a chance to win.  Lewis boxed and stayed away, winning a wide decision.  Tua’s career after that fight had been up and down.

He lost to Chris Byrd in 2001, had a stretch of inactivity, including a recent one from 2007 to 2009, but he is back.  In late 2009, he took on fringe contender Shane Cameron, starching him inside of two rounds.  In his last fight, he went twelve rounds, taking the decision easily over Friday Ahunanya, and occupies the #3 ranking in the WBO.  So, what can a 37 year old David Tua do against the WBO Heavyweight Champion, Wladimir Klitschko?  A lot.

Tua seems to have his focus back.  He has a huge punch and takes a great punch, which is a formula that Wlad doesn’t always deal well with.  Sam Peter, a much more raw version of Tua, gave Wlad hell over twelve rounds.  An inspired Lamon Brewster stopped him.  Tua, if motivated, could finally realize what many contended was his destiny…to win the heavyweight title.

A Tua – Wlad match up would generate a lot of public interest…maybe HBO would even broadcast it!  David Tua is a notable heavyweight from a much more memorable time than we have going now.  His punching power and the perceived weaknesses in the chin and heart of the champion would get the boxing fans excited, especially if a 230 pound Tua showed up to fight.

The Klitschko brothers have eliminated most of the contenders that were of any threat.  Calvin Brock, Ruslan Chagaev, Sultan Ibragimov, Eddie Chambers, Kirk Johnson, Tony Thompson, Lamon Brewster, Ray Austin, Sam Peter, Juan Carlos Gomez, Chris Byrd, and Chris Arreola have all been defeated.  There isn’t much left.  Tua could shake up the division.

Unfortunately for boxing and unfortunately for the Klitschko brothers, the current heavyweight division is in a lull.  The talent pool is very small, leaving the brothers atop of the mountain and the rest much farther down and without much chance to survive the fight, let alone win it.  The size, Lennox Lewis style of fighting, and lack of true competition cements them in as long reigning champions.  This is why boxing has died on the heavyweight level. 

On May 29th, Vitali, who has hinted at retirement…again, will take on the challenge of Polish heavyweight, Albert Sosnowski in a WBC Title bout that most consider to be a mismatch of epic proportions.  You pile that on top of Eddie Chambers’ non effort against Wlad, and Kevin Johnson’s equally horrible performance against Vitali, then there is no reason for people to get excited about the heavyweight title anymore. 

In the 1990s, we had it good with guys like Ray Mercer, Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis, Razor Ruddock, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, George Foreman, Michael Moorer, Tommy Morrison, and many more good contenders to keep it fresh and create great fights.  We had warriors that would go to battle and now we are seeing beatings or bouts of survival. 

The Klitschko brothers want to go down in history as memorable champions, but you are only as good as your competition.  Fighters like Odlanier Solis, Alexander Povetkin, Tomasz Adamek, and David Haye have the potential to shake up the control of the division, but they don’t have the following that a David Tua does.  Tua is in a great position right now to lay down a challenge to either Klitschko brothers.

What the “Tuaman” may need to make the public demand the fight is a showdown with one of the top guns in the division today.  If he were to take on the winner of Adamek-Arreola and come out victorious, especially if it were by stoppage, he would be right in there for a title shot.  If he were to take on Nikolay Valuev, the gigantic former champion and give him his first KO defeat, it would generate more support for the big fight.

David Tua needs to fight one of the Klitschko brothers and Wlad is the much more winnable fight.  It would be tough for the smaller Tua to get into punching range without being smothered or tied up, but his short arms and vicious hooks should provide us with some entertainment and Wlad some scares.

At one time, David Tua was nearly a sure thing to wear the heavyweight title, but it didn’t happen.   Many lesser fighters went on to hold the crown, but at 37 years of age with nine straight wins, he may finally have his focus back and finally realize his dream to be the heavyweight champion.

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