Dan Rafael: David Tua

Tua's latest comeback delayed

August, 14, 2013
Remember heavyweight David Tua?

At one time, in the second half of the 1990s, the Samoan knockout artist from New Zealand was the No. 1 contender. He was powering through the division and knocking out everyone, including several top opponents of his day -- John Ruiz, David Izon, Hasim Rahman and Oleg Maskaev. But when he got his long-awaited title shot in 2000, he ran into a prime Lennox Lewis and lost a decisive decision.

Tua continued to fight, although he had multiple lengthy layoffs and was never really a top contender again.

The 40-year-old Tua (52-4-2, 43 KOs) has not fought since losing a unanimous decision in a rematch to Monte Barrett in August 2011. He was due to come off his latest long layoff -- almost two years to the day -- Aug. 31 to face Alexander Ustinov (28-1, 21 KOs), who is one fight removed from an 11th-round knockout loss to contender Kubrat Pulev in a title elimination fight last September.

However, according to promoter David Higgins of Duco Events, who was putting on the fight in Hamilton, New Zealand, Tua suffered a grade one calf muscle tear during training last week, forcing the fight to be postponed until Nov. 16.

“This is the fight game and every now and again fighters get injured and plans change,” Higgins said. “Alexander and his crew from K2 Promotions have been exceptional. They understand that delays are commonplace in the world of boxing. They couldn't have been more accommodating in terms of accepting the new date. And David Tua, too, has been excellent to deal with. He has put in an enormous amount of work to get himself into peak condition for the bout. But he has kept his spirits up and has accepted the new date and has already begun re-strategizing his buildup."

Russia’s Ustinov, who lives in Belarus, will return home and get set for the new date.

“Coming to New Zealand to prepare for Aug. 31 has been great," Ustinov said. “Even though the fight has been delayed, when I come back in November I will know what to expect inside and outside of the ring. These things happen in boxing. I'm just looking forward to the fight and taking on the world famous David Tua.”

As for Tua, he said he will remain positive.

“It is what it is," Tua said. “All you can do is be positive, and to be honest, there is plenty to be positive about. The delay gives me even more time to get into peak condition and it also allows me to leave no stone unturned when it comes to the strategy of the fight.”

Hunt is on for a Burgos opponent

July, 10, 2013
A few notes from the boxing world:

• Junior lightweight contender Juan Carlos Burgos is in need of a new opponent for his fight on July 26 (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes). Burgos (30-1-1, 20 KOs), who fought to a disputed draw with titleholder Rocky Martinez in January, was due to face Daulis Prescott in a 12-round bout at Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Sacramento, Calif. However, Prescott (26-2, 19 KOs), the brother of longtime junior welterweight and lightweight contender Breidis Prescott and a former featherweight title challenger, withdrew because of kidney stones.

• Promoter Rodney Berman has secured an American TV outlet for Saturday’s “Monte Carlo Million Dollar Super 4” final between super middleweight contender Edwin Rodriguez (23-0-0, 15 KOs) of Worcester, Mass., and light heavyweight contender Denis Grachev (13-1-1, 8 KOs), a San Diego-based Russian, who will meet at a catch weight of 171 pounds in Monaco. The card will be televised by beIN Sport beginning at 3 p.m. ET. beIN Sport, which bills itself as “the international sports channel,” carries mostly soccer and is available on several outlets in the United States, inclucing DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast and AT&T U-Verse TV.

Also on the card, junior welterweight titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev (18-0, 8 KOs) of Russia makes a mandatory defense against France’s Soulemayne M’baye (40-4-1, 22 KOs), Max Bursak (26-1-1, 12 KOs) of Ukraine defends the European middleweight title against England’s Prince Arron (23-4-1, 5 KOs) and Dmytro Kuchar (21-0, 15 KOs) of Ukraine faces South Africa’s Ilunga Makabu (13-1-0, 13 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round cruiserweight bout.

• Famed broadcaster Col. Bob Sheridan, who has called more than 900 world title fights, has a history of heart trouble and is scheduled for triple bypass surgery on Monday. He’s already had five heart attacks and nearly died from pneumonia, but he’s still kicking and hopes to reach the 1,000 mark. Sheridan is in good spirits and, assuming all goes well, plans to be in New Zealand on Aug. 31 to work the broadcast of heavyweight David Tua (52-4-2, 43 KOs) against Alexander Ustinov (28-1, 21 KOs). Tua, the former title challenger and longtime contender, has not fought since a decision loss to Monte Barrett in their rematch in August 2011.

• The shakeup at HBO Sports continues under division president Ken Hershman as longtime director of programming Luis Ferrer, one of the deparment’s main boxing executives, is leaving. Ferrer, 41, had worked in boxing programmning at the network since 2004, although he took a leave of absence from September 2010 through December 2012 when he joined the army and served in Afghanistan. Ferrer, who is going to NBC Sports, is the second major programming executive to leave HBO Sports in the past month, joining his boss and senior vice president Kery Davis, who recently resigned.