Tua stops Wheeler with body shot

05.11.06 - By Geoffrey Ciani: Friday night, heavyweight pugilist David Tua was originally scheduled to face former cruiserweight titlist, Kelvin Davis. Davis, however, pulled out of the bout. It then looked as if Tua’s new opponent would be Ross “The Boss” Purrity, but a training injury forced Purrity out as well. Next up was Abraham Okine, although, he too would ultimately back out. Finally, on less than 24 hours an opponent was found, and Tua was slated to face Maurice Wheeler..

Hailing from Philadelphia, PA, Wheeler entered the bout with a professional record of 10-8-1, winning just one fight by way of knockout. On paper, it didn’t appear the 36 year-old southpaw would offer much of a challenge. After all, this was to be the fourth fight on Tua’s comeback trail which started in March of 2005. Surely, the ring rust should be nearly gone and the once formidable contender should be ready for bigger and better challenges.

Unfortunately for Tua, sometimes things aren’t always what they seem. Wheeler was ready to fight. From the opening bell, Wheeler showed that he meant business as he frustrated Tua with a pesky jab and a decent left hand—a trend which followed for several rounds. Wheeler out-boxed and outworked Tua throughout most of the early rounds. Not only that, Tua was visibly stunned by Wheeler on numerous occasions.

For his part, Tua seemed content to follow his opponent around the ring without doing much defensively, and Wheeler didn’t look like a 10-8 fighter who lacked power, as his one career knockout would suggest. On the contrary, Wheeler appeared to have some pop in his punches; after all, he was snapping Tua’s neck back, and Tua is known as having one of the best chins in boxing.

It became difficult to tell whether the fight’s progression was due more to Wheeler looking good or Tua looking bad. In any case, the first four rounds saw Wheeler getting the best of Tua. Tua appeared slow and easily baffled. He wasn’t throwing many punches, and when he was, he was telegraphing them. It appeared as if Tua may have been hurt on several occasions, and he had few answers to the game southpaw fighter’s hustle.

In round five, Tua started picking up the pace a little. He began focusing more on a body attack, landing thunderous left hooks to Wheeler’s soft body. As loud as they sounded, at first, they didn’t appear to slow Wheeler down much. This didn’t deter Tua though, and he remained committed to the body attack. The more he clobbered Wheeler’s body, the more Wheeler began to hold and it was becoming obvious that those body punches were beginning to do some damage. Ultimately, Tua would drop Wheeler in the seventh with a vicious left hook to Wheeler’s midsection. The fight was stopped, and Tua was declared the winner.

Despite the win, Tua didn’t look impressive and clearly doesn’t seem ready for a top tier opponent. Going on 34, it seems that Tua’s best days are behind him. In the current state of the division, it’s tough to count anyone out who has big power and a great chin. But Tua’s power didn’t seem as explosive as it once did, and his once granite chin appeared to have a few cracks. This wasn’t the same David Tua who once fought against the very best heavyweight boxing had to offer.

Tua was easily losing on points to a fighter that would have caused him very little trouble just a few years ago. I think this may signify the beginning of the end of Tua. Even at his best, he was often out-boxed and out–hustled, and were it not for his tremendous power often bailing him out, he would have been very ordinary. Now that his power and chin appear to be abandoning him, I’m not sure he’d fare too well against anyone in the top 20 these days.

On another note, the most exciting fight of the night involved middleweight prospect, “Mean” Joe Green. In the scheduled eight-rounder, Green battered a very tough Edison Aguirre, knocking him down seven times en route to a fifth round stoppage. Green was hitting Aguirre with every punch in the book, and he packed some mean-looking power. Green was landing his lead left whenever he threw it and had much success with his snappy right hook. He also had a very nice jab, and fired some really nice uppercuts when his opponent tried to smother him on the inside.

The win improved Green’s record to 13-0, with ten of those wins coming by knockout. Green is still a work-in-progress who needs some polishing, but he looked very impressive. He’s an exciting young fighter who may have a bright boxing future.

Photos taken by Geoffrey Ciani

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Article posted on 06.11.2006

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