By Mitch Abramson
Cedric Kushner described the situation involving heavyweight David Tua as “volatile” after Kushner was stood up by the fighter a day after Tua lost a close decision to Monte Barrett on Aug. 13 in Tua’s home country of New Zeland. Kushner was in discussions with advisor Shelly Finkel about a possible fight with WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko should Tua have won the fight. But the loss to Barrett most likely scuttles those plans, the promoter admitted, and now Kushner, who still has Tua under contract, has been left in the lurch by the mercurial fighter as to what comes next.
As if that wasn't enough, Kushner is on the mend after a four-month hospital stay to fix problems with his spine. Kushner underwent four separate operations, one of which put a metal plate in his neck, and was released from the hospital barely three weeks before he endured a 20-hour flight to New Zealand for the fight.
“It’s a very volatile situation," Kushner said in a phone interview from his Manhattan office. "I spoke to him briefly at the press conference after the fight and he was friendly. I anticipated a meeting with him the next day and he never showed or phoned to say he wasn’t showing. I understood that he was a little bummed out that he lost the fight, but I wish that he had had someone call me to tell me he didn’t feel like showing.”
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Tua’s future and what type of return bout he would like to have, the promoter said. In the meantime, Kushner says he’s been communicating with Tua’s Auckland-based lawyer, Blair Edwards. As to why Tua stood him up, Kushner has a theory.
“I just think the guy wants to take a few days off,” Kushner said. “I don’t think it’s unusual to take a few days off. He didn’t want to talk boxing. My comment is that I don’t think it’s unusual or not to be expected. But mentally, he must have not wanted to talk boxing at that point.”
Kushner still believes that Tua has the talent and power to remain a “force” in the heavyweight division. While giving away many of the early rounds, Tua mounted an offensive in the second half of the fight, breaking Barrett’s jaw and knocking him to the canvas in the 12th and final round. The three judges scored it: 115-112, 115-112, 114-113, all for Barrett, who kept his career alive, winning for the first time in five fights.
Barrett and Tua battled to a majority decision draw in July of last year in Atlantic City with Tua tasting the canvas for the first time in his career. In the most recent fight, Tua sustained cuts for the first time in his career, the result of a punch in the first round. Any future fights with Tua will have to wait until the cuts heal, Kushner said. As for his own health, the promoter said he’s feeling strong since the surgery and is looking forward to promoting Tua in the future.
“I still think he can be a force in the heavyweight division,” Kushner said. “He showed it in the second half of the fight with Barrett.”