The moon is undoubtedly a powerful force. Whether its hitting your eye like a big pizza pie or turning people into werewolves, its by-and-large used as an excuse for polarizing behaviour. Enter David Tua, whose 18-year professional boxing career has seen him fight under two distinct guises: the aggressive power-punching Jekyl, or the lackluster Hyde. As the perigree moon hung enormous in the Manukau sky, one wondered exactly just what David Tua we would see.
Although he would come away with a wide decision win over American journeyman Demetrice King, we would see a mix of personalities as, after ten rounds of actions, all three judges gave South Auckland's favourite son the nod; and Tua his 52nd win in 57 professional boxing contests.
Fighting in his home of South Auckland for the first time as a professional, Tua jabbed and looked for openings, while Demetrice King provided a mostly stationary target and failed to capitalise on his considerable advantage in size. Instead of keeping Tua on the end of a stiff jab, he simply walked into Tua's strike zone with his hands held high. Tua bounced shots off of King all evening, and dished out more hooks than a Def Leppard concert, but seemed unable to hurt his foe who implored Tua to give him more. You got the feeling that, given the openings he was presented, the Tua of old would have been able to close the show on his rugged but limited opponent.
In many respects, it seemed clear that the Tua of old is gone. His much vaunted left hook has failed to dent anyone since 2007, his head movement has degraded and he seems unbalanced when taking punches. Don't get me wrong, there were flashes of these traits, however, they were only flashes. At times he looked driven and hungry, punched in fast combination and seemed intent on trying to make it an early night. Quite paradoxically, his left hand seems to be an old dog that has learned new tricks. Tua often doubled and sometimes tripled up on the jab, which was stiff and King's main deterrent.
Although Tua weighed in at 254 pounds, this seems to be about the right weight. He has looked too drained in his last couple of outings. His improvement in stamina has been evident nonetheless, and the whirlwind of pressure he asserted in the final seconds of the fight was a tactic that could have been employed more often. Offensively, the addition of a hard jab, and the use of more right hands upstairs, show that he is certainly able to adapt and learn as a fighter. When throwing in combination, Tua looked crisp and far less reliant on landing his infamous left hook.
Talks of potential bouts with either Evander Holyfield or a rematch with Monte Barrett will do little to help his cause. There are many fighters ranked in the top 15 by the four major sanctioning bodies who are better strategic choices. A third fight with Hasim Rahman seems the most obvious as he is ranked 15th by the WBC, is a ‘name' opponent who would only add to the money aspect and Tua already owns a stoppage win over the former world champion (as well as a draw). Since their 2004 draw, Rahman has actively called Tua out. Even offering to fight in New Zealand.
If Tua is serious about contending at a high level again, then acceptable efforts against fighters with losing records are not going to get him there. He needs to be impressive. He needs to be explosive. He needs to be David Tua.