By James Slater – Samoan slugger David Tua, one of the biggest heavyweight names of the 1990s and also one of the most exciting fighters of that decade, has officially announced his retirement. Now aged 39, Tua told The Sunday Star Times in New Zealand that he “can’t keep doing it the way it’s been.” Tua said he respects the fans and the sport too much to carry on fighting when not at his physical, mental and spiritual best..
Having succumbed to financial troubles over recent years, Tua said he would not carry on fighting in the ring just to make money.
“See my boots ……. one is on the ground and one is hanging up,” Tua said. “Right now, as of this very moment, I am retired. I love it [boxing] it’s my life. I may have retired from the game itself, but I will never retire from daily challenges. You always face challenges, no matter what. I really love and respect the fans, I really love and respect the game, but I need to approach it and honour it by being well-prepared ….. I can’t keep doing it the way it’s been.
“It’s a lot more than taking care of the IRD. In boxing, you can’t have a bad day – on the actual day you still have to take the walk. I am very happy with what I have been able to accomplish. I don’t live regrets. I have my health. Every day above ground is paradise.”
A great guy, in and out of the ring – (Tua really opened up to this writer during an interview he was kind enough to grant for ESB back in 2007; revealing, amongst other things, how his “wise” father used to hit a young David with a belt if he lost any of the fights that were held with the neighbourhood kids; about how his father used to watch his son’s losing fight against heavyweight king Lennox Lewis “again and again and again!” The reason, Tua’s dad told him when he finally “plucked up the courage to confront him about it,” was because his father “was proud of his effort.”) – Tua often seemed too wise and spiritual to be a mere fighter.
In his prime, though, “The Tuaman” was something else; a genuinely powerful puncher who evoked memories of the great ones from years gone by. At just 5’10,” Tua had a disadvantage against the massive heavies such as Lewis (against who Tua had his one and only world title fight, back in November of 2000, losing a wide UD), but the stunning power he carried in either fist, his rock of a chin and great conditioning and the ability to fight inside more than made up for his height deficiencies.
Arguably the best heavyweight of the last twenty years to have never become world champion, Tua nevertheless leaves behind a more than respectable resume. Tua fought some big, big fights.
Here are my picks for Tua’s five best wins.
1: 1996: KO1 John Ruiz. Making a huge splash before U.S fans on this “Night of Young Heavyweights,” Tua utterly destroyed the well-respected Ruiz in a fight that contested the WBC International belt. A mere 19-seconds into the opening round, Tua brutally despatched “The Quiet Man,” scoring one helluva scary KO! It would be a long 14-years before future WBA ruler Ruiz was stopped again.
2: 1998: TKO10 Hasim Rahman. This one may have been controversial, seeing how an overanxious Tua belted “The Rock” as the bell sounded to end the 9th-round, thus leaving his rival groggy when entering the 10th – but Tua had racked up another big win. At the time, fans everywhere were sure they’d seen a future world champ. As it turned out they had: in Rahman!
3: 2002: KO1 Michael Moorer. Sure, Moorer never had a great chin, yet at the time of his fight with Tua he had lost only one of his last ten (his return fight with Evander Holyfield) and he had been stopped just twice: by George Foreman, in the 10th, and by Holyfield, in the 8th. Tua? He left the dangerous southpaw draped over the ring ropes after a mere 30-seconds!
4: 1997: TKO11 Oleg Maskaev. Yet another future champ that Tua would take out. This battle was of the rough and tough variety, with Tua finally getting to the young Maskaev, with the fight still up for grabs on the cards, late on. A win that was better appreciated later on.
5: 2002: TKO9 Fres Oquendo. A win that Tua badly needed at the time, Oquendo was an unbeaten contender at 22-0. A proven slickster, “Fast” Fres was boxing well until Tua’s power caught up with him. The still-active Oquendo has been stopped just one other time. Now back in title contention, Tua would not lose for nine long years.
David’s final pro record: 52-4-3(43). Olympic bronze medallist in 1992.