Archives for posts with tag: Heavyweight division
 

The Tuaman has seen his fortune vanish

 

 

 

 

 

 
By Johnny Walker

 

You could call it life imitating art, or vice-versa.

In the new FX boxing drama Lights Out, the main character, Patrick “Lights” Leary (Holt McCallany), 40, is a retired heavyweight champion who has blown through millions of dollars, while living in a too-lavish manner with his family in a New Jersey mansion.

In a recent episode, Lights, having been forced to face the reality of his situation, is forced to tell his stricken wife, “It’s gone. It’s all gone.”

It’s a story that veteran heavyweight contender David “Tuaman” Tua, 38, can identify with all too well.

Tua, a native of Samoa who fights out of New Zealand, is in many ways the real-life embodiment of “Lights” Leary. In the Sunday News, Tua has revealed that he and his family (Wife Robina, and two sons, Klein, 15, and Kaynan, 12), have been living in rental accommodations, and even had to move in with co-manager Inga Tuigamala at their lowest point.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Tuaman earned approximately $12 million from his 2000 loss to heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.

At one point, Tua owned a lavish penthouse apartment in Auckland, as well as other properties.

But problematic investments and a protracted legal battle with two ex-managers have left Tua in dire straits.

Tua’s legal bills ballooned to $4.2 million, and to add to his woes, he was also hit by a $2.2 million tax bill from the New Zealand government, which froze the purses from his last three fights.

“Everybody has this picture of David Tua, that he lives a life [of luxury]… but no,” Tua told the Sunday News.

Like “Lights” Leary, Tua has been forced to face up to the loss of his riches.

“I have sat down and really confirmed and put things into perspective. I have written things [goals] down and now want to make sure I stand by them.”

Uppermost on Tua’s mind is finding security and stability for his family. 

“The short-term goal is [hopefully] to put my family into a home,” Tua vowed. “That is the important goal for this year.”

Perhaps the most talented heavyweight on the current scene who has never won a world title belt, Tua is all too aware that time is not on his side.

“The reality is that I am not going to be a fighter forever,” Tua declares. “If I get another opportunity of fighting for the title, and hopefully winning it, it would be fantastic.”

“But if not, in five years that will be it.”

In the meantime, Tua insists that the loss of material possessions has its upside.

“Money doesn’t make you happy. So I don’t miss it… no,” the Tuaman says. “To be honest, I am a lot happier now than I was back in the days.”

Tua sees his struggles philosophically as part of the roadblocks we all face in getting where we want to go.

“Sometimes you go through certain journeys in life,” Tua reflects. 

“Sometimes they are simple, sometimes you get tested in ways where some people get through to the other side and others don’t.

By Johnny Walker

In the “say it ain’t so” boxing sweepstakes, Adam Booth, the manager/trainer of WBA heavyweight champion David Haye, is publicly musing about a rematch between his charge and former cruiserweight champ turned heavyweight contender Jean-Marc Mormeck.

In an interview with ffboxe.com, Booth seems surprised at the discovery of something that most fans of heavyweight boxing have known for some time: that Haye’s mandatory challenger for the WBA crown, Ruslan Chagaev, is infected with the hepatitis B antigen (he is not ill, but is a carrier of the virus).

“Logically, David would have faced [Ruslan] Chagaev but the news about his health is not very good,” Booth says in the interview.

“He reportedly suffers from hepatitis B, which makes their confrontation impossible. I then looked at the classification of the WBA … and I saw that Jean-Marc Mormeck is now ranked in the Top 10 at seven or eight, I think, and that makes a Mormeck-Haye fight possible,” Booth explains.

There are so many things wrong with this idea (as there was with the choice of Haye’s previous opponent, Audley Harrison), that to enumerate them all here would take up too much space. 

But let’s hit the most obvious problems:

First, Haye has already defeated Mormeck when they fought for the WBC cruiserweight title in 2007.  Mormeck did knock Haye down in round four, but is that knockdown really enough to warrant a rematch at heavyweight?

Second, Haye insists he is retiring in October of this year.  That leaves him with probably enough time for two fights, maximum.  Beating a man he’s already defeated at at lighter weight is surely going to do nothing for his legacy at heavyweight. 

But it appears that the question of legacy is no longer a concern for Haye and Booth, if indeed it ever was.

Most of us know by now the sad inability of Booth and Haye to negotiate a deal with either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko, who currently hold all of the major belts aside from Haye’s WBA title.

But there are alternatives.  If not Chagaev (and it should be noted that Wladimir Klitschko fought Chagaev in 2009 without complaint, merely taking a vaccination before the fight as protection), how about Denis Boytsov, Alexander Povetkin, Samuel Peter, Robert Helenius, Cris Arreola, Tomasz Adamek: these are some fighters who could give Haye a decent (and hopefully entertaining) fight.

And all of them are better than Mormeck, who this writer had losing his last fight to Timur Ibragimov in Paris, only to be saved by a hometown decision.

Booth, however, not only dismisses the notion of a fight with Wladimir, but also with Vitali (too old and likely to lose to Odlanier Solis, according to Booth — a notion shared by almost no one outside of Solis’s inner circle), and also implies that there is public demand for a Haye-Mormeck rematch.

“In England there is no problem,” Booth says. “We’ve sold 20,000 tickets in two to three weeks for each bout of David’s bouts. Haye-Mormeck in England is possible.” 

“But if France wants to see this fight in Paris, David is quite ready to return. It will demonstrate that his first success against Jean-Marc is not a coincidence….”

But who was really insisting it was a coincidence in the first place, Adam?

 By Johnny Walker

It seems that 2010 is ending much like 2009 did as far as boxing’s heavyweight division is concerned: with escalating trash talk between the respective camps of the Klitschko Brothers and David Haye.

Haye versus Klitschko: Just a fantasy?

 After doing everything he could to avoid getting in the ring with one of the Ukrainian brothers for the last two years—this after demanding a showdown with Wladimir when he made the jump up from cruiserweight—WBA paper champion Haye is now doing his best to convince the world (with the help of his UK press cheerleaders like The Guardian’s obsequious Kevin Mitchell) that he is doing the The Ring magazine heavyweight champ a favor by accepting his 50-50 contract offer for a heavyweight showdown.

“Despite the fact we know we bring more UK television money to the table, David and I are happy to split the entire pot 50-50 and grant Wladimir the deal he has wanted since day one,” says Haye mouthpiece and trainer Adam Booth. “We have offered them 50-50 on everything and now see no reason why this tremendous fight can’t happen. The path is clear.”

So now we are to believe it is Haye, who holds one belt (the legitimacy of which is questionable) who is lowering his standards to offer Wladimir Klitschko—who holds the IBF, IBO and WBO belts as well as the The Ring magazine honor—the same 50-50 contract that Klitschko had already offered the Brit.

Sure, boys.

Haye, being his usual eloquent self, put it this way: “We agreed to 50-50 on everything, which they requested. We took away every possible excuse. There is no reason for this fight not to happen. I want to fight that big Russian prick next.”

Let’s hope a few months from now, Haye doesn’t tell us he was really talking about a rematch with Nicolay Valuev, who is very big—and actually Russian.

For their part, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko recently issued a statement in the German newspaper Bild that promised a showdown with Haye in 2011.   

“We want this fight at all costs,” the statement read.  “[Haye] may choose which of us he wants to step into the ring to lose his world title.”

Now, Wladimir has gone further, claiming that a fight pitting either Klitschko brother against Haye is “an easy payday.”

“It doesn’t matter which one it is, both of us are far too big and strong for David Haye, who … is rated only in his own head – outside that nobody rates him,” said Wladimir.  “He will be nothing for us to beat. He will leave the arena embarrassed if he ever sets foot in the ring with us.”

“If” indeed.

Before anyone gets too excited, it should be remembered that we’ve heard all of this before. Haye has gone so far as to sign to fight Wladimir, only to pull out at the last moment with an “injury” that was never substantiated by any doctor’s report. 

And Haye has reiterated a number of times lately that he intends to retire next year before his 31st birthday whether he has fought a Klitschko or not.

So despite all of the talk and the promises, we are in reality no closer to the second biggest fight that can be made in boxing actually taking place. 

Talk, as they say, is cheap.

See you in 2011.

Tomas Adamek had too much firepower for Vinny Maddalone

By Johnny Walker

Top heavyweight contender Tomasz “Goral” Adamek (43-1) of Poland destroyed Vinny Maddalone (33-6) Thursday night, outclassing the game journeyman from Queens, New York via a fifth round TKO.

Adamek, since entering the heavyweight division after a dominant career at cruiserweight, has had his ups and downs.  After destroying his semi-retired countryman Andrew Golota, Adamek had a not entirely convincing win over Jason Estrada, an impressive majority decision victory over the much bigger Cris Arreola, and a hanging-on-for-dear-life cliffhanger win over the even bigger Michael Grant.

Those waiting for Adamek to look totally dominant at heavyweight finally got their wish in his bout against Maddalone.

Looking less bulky in the upper body than he did last time out against Grant, Adamek used his superior speed to pepper the game but awkward Maddalone from the first round onward.  He doubled and tripled up on the jab, worked Maddalone’s midsection, and then went head-hunting with crisp combinations.

You name it, Adamek was throwing it at Maddalone, including the kitchen sink.

If Adamek showed any weakness in this fight, it was in his vulnerability to the left hook, which the less than speedy Maddalone nevertheless managed to land with some regularity.

But all the work Adamek was putting in, especially to the body, had Maddalone running on empty by round five, when a right-left combination following a wild miss by Maddalone saw the Queens native deposited to the mat.

From then on, it was a mere matter of time, as Adamek was determined to close the show and get his first stoppage as a heavyweight, peppering Maddalone with combinations to the body and head. 

Finally, and correctly, Maddalone’s corner had seen enough, and signalled to referee Steve Smoger to call an end to the fight at 2:17 of round five.

With this win, Adamek figures to be in the running for a title fight next year with one of the Klitschko brothers, possibly at Madison Square Garden in New York, which would benefit from the proximity of Adamek’s Polish fanbase in New Jersey, as well as that of the many Russian and Ukrainian fans of the Klitschkos residing in Brooklyn.

Perhaps the most tantalizing–and potentially winnable–heavyweight championship matchup for Adamek would be against Britain’s David Haye, in a battle of of ex-cruiserweight champions.

A fight between Adamek and Roy Jones Jr. has also been discussed, and some members of Team Adamek are apparently all for it, but if that were to take place, it would be a travesty and a waste of Adamek’s time — and at age 34, he hasn’t got all that much time to waste in what remains of his boxing career.

Let’s hope that cooler heads prevail in the Adamek camp: Adamek is too valuable a commodity in the current heavyweight scene to be taking part in credibility-destroying fights of the kind Haye just had with Audley Harrison.

Ruslan Chagaev (l), had all he could handle from Travis Walker

By Johnny Walker

Ruslan Chagaev of Uzbekistan, the mandatory contender for David Haye’s WBA heavyweight title, barely got by tough American journeyman Travis Walker Friday night in a fan-friendly, eight-round “tune-up” scrap in Hamburg, Germany.

Those who like to loudly bemoan the lack of back and forth action in today’s heavyweight division surely would have been silenced by the aggressive tactics of both Chagaev and Walker.  Chagaev, who has been talking up an upcoming 2011 contest with Britain’s controversial “Hayemaker,” had the most to lose coming in to this bout, and Walker did his best to take advantage of that.

Chagaev started well in rounds one and two, showing why he formerly held the belt that now resides around David Haye’s waist.  Showing fast hands and moving well, the southpaw Chagaev established a pattern of landing flush lead lefts to Walker’s face, and also backed up the American with some lightning fast combos.

Walker, as round two progressed, eventually started to get some rhythm going, and thudded a cracking uppercut into Chagaev’s sturdy chin in what would become a pattern of his own.

With Walker’s excitable and vociferous corner yelling for “right hands!” to the point of distraction in round three, it was Chagaev who landed a nifty uppercut of his own, followed by a flurry of lefts and rights.  Round four saw both fighters winging hard shots, most of which were blocked by gloves, with Chagaev again landing a thudding lead left near the end of the round.

The fifth round was one of the best in the fight: Walker came out aggressive, landing those “right hands” his corner had been begging for.  In what could be seen as an ominous sign for a future matchup with Haye, Chagaev proved vulnerable to repeated uppercuts, as Walker bullied the smaller man around the ring.  Yet another hard lead left from Chagaev only momentarily halted Walker’s progress, and both men flurried to end the round.

Rounds six and seven saw Chagaev, who looked a bit soft at 232, rapidly tiring from the fight’s hectic pace, while Walker got a second wind.  The superior upper body movement Chagaev displayed when handing giant Russian Nicolay Valuev his first loss (lifting the WBA title from him to boot) was now nowhere to be seen, and Walker took full advantage, muscling Chagaev into the corners and teeing off on him with hard shots.

The fight was very close (I had it dead even) heading into the last round, and Walker tried to keep up the pressure.  Chagaev, sensing that his title shot against Haye could be in jeopardy, started winging wild punches in the hope of taking Walker out.  Finally, both men were exhausted, having given the heavyweight division the kind of competitive fight it could use more of.

Chagaev, as the “hometown” favorite (he fights out of Germany), got the benefit of the doubt from the judges, who saw it 78-75, 77-75 and 77-76 in his favor (I scored it a draw).  Walker, however, gave a very good account of himself on this night.

The result now sets Chagaev up for a showdown with Haye . . . or does it? 

According to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, “I don’t see Haye going to Germany for that fight. He has the title and is much bigger in the UK than Chagaev is in Germany.”

“However,” Rafael continued, “I would be surprised if Chagaev is licensed in the UK because of his positive hepatitis tests. The medicals are tougher in the UK than Germany. That would make this a big mess.  It may have to go to a purse bid and if Chagaev’s side wins, it would probably be put in Germany, but I’d be surprised if Chagaev’s side won a purse bid if there was one.  Haye can bid much more because of the greater revenue he supplies from UK television.”

Stay tuned.

(www.streetbeatboxing.com)

David Tua (l), knocked down for the first time in his career by Monte Barrett in his last fight.

By Johnny Walker

Heavyweight contender David “Tuamanator” Tua of New Zealand still hopes to get a shot at some version of the heavyweight title.  Tua, 37, known for his lethal left hook and iron chin, was shockingly knocked down for the first time in his long career last time out in July against heavy underdog American Monte Barrett in Atlantic City. 

Tua later claimed that a shoulder injury had prevented him from properly preparing for the bout, an exciting draw that many fans felt Tua had actually lost. 

According to Tua’s promoter Cedric Kushner, the Tuamanator plans to fight twice more before challenging for a world title (if all goes well, that is).   Possible future bouts include a Barrett rematch (which Tua would certainly have to win by knockout in order to make up for last time), and fights with Hasim Rahman and/or (say it ain’t so!) Evander Holyfield

Many have jumped off the Tua bandwagon after the Barrett fight, and it remains to be seen if wins against ageing opposition like this will get them back on board. 

With Tua giving up considerable size, a fight against one of current champs Vitali or Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine seems like a suicide mission; Britain’s David Haye might be a better prospect for Tua, but the WBA paper champ is adamant that he is retiring in a year’s time, not leaving Tua enough time to get in his much-needed preparation bouts.