Duco Events today announced Tua has signed on for the Hydr8 ZERO David vs Goliath bout against the formidable world heavyweight championship contender Alexander Ustinov on 31 August, 2013 at Claudelands Arena Hamilton.
The giant 36 year old Russian, who stands at a towering 6ft’ 8in" (203cm), has won 28 of his 29 professional boxing bouts earning him a top 10 ranking in both the WBA and IBF heavyweight divisions.
With only one loss in boxing to IBF world No 1 Kubret Pulev, the four time K1 Grand Prix title winner represents Tua’s toughest assignment since his drawn contest against Hasim Rahman ten years ago.
"I told the guys at Duco that I would fight anyone," the Tuamanator (40) said. "And I am a man of my word. "Alexander will be a challenging opponent on a number of levels. But I need ‘challenging’. I am boxing again because I eventually want to have another shot at the heavyweight title. That chance will never come if I run from fights. And that is something I have never done.
"I’m excited about the fight. The key now is to continue to work hard and make sure that come fight night I am in the best position possible to make a statement against Alexander and announce to the world that David Tua is serious about fulfilling his destiny."
The Hydr8 ZERO David vs Goliath bout on August 31 at Claudelands Arena has come about after months of painstaking work from Duco Events’ David Higgins, Dean Lonergan and their team.
Duco Events masterminded a deal with Tua in January and - despite some in the boxing community suggesting to Higgins that Tua was past his ‘use-by’ date - they pressed on to ink the deal with Ustinov last night.
"Whenever people hear that I am working with David Tua they seem to always question whether or not he is serious," Mr Higgins said.
"Well, there are two measures of that.
"First, he has spent tens of thousands of dollars of his own money funding a brutal six month training camp with Lee Parore - the man who got him into career best shape for the Fight of the Century versus Shane Cameron in 2009.
"That work has been going on for six months. David has been working out two times a day, six days a week. He's been getting fit from the inside out - the old school way. It's remarkable how hard he has worked.
"The second measure of his seriousness is his choice of opponent. It would have been easy for him to select a bum and dress up the fight as a meaningful one by saying it’s a chance to get rid of some ring rust after 24 months out of the ring. "Instead he has chosen a fighter who is huge and who has won 28 out of his 29 fights. Alexander Ustinov is a formidable opponent. But David understands where he wants to go and he knows that there is no hiding place when your goal is to fight for the heavyweight title again."
Indeed, it is no coincidence that Ustinov is on the books of K2 Promotions - the company owned and controlled by heavyweight title holders Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. "The strategy behind this fight is purposeful," Mr Higgins said. "With one punch David Tua could send a message to the Klitschko brothers. The punch will be heard in the far reaches of eastern Europe because if he can knock out Alexander Ustinov, David Tua would have proved himself as (a) capable of beating tall opponents, (b) marketable because of his power, and (c) worthy of a title shot against Wladimir or Vitali.
"So, no, it is no accident that we have ended up with an opponent for David who could represent a title shot in the not-to-distant future."
Tua, who fought Lennox Lewis for the title in 2000, first worked with Duco Events in 2009 when he destroyed Shane Cameron in the Fight of the Century. The fight set a per-capita world record for pay-per-view and laid the platform for Mr Higgins and Dean Lonergan to spend the next four years cementing Duco Events’ place in New Zealand as the market leader in sports promotions.
"David Tua’s box office appeal has never been in doubt," Mr Higgins said. "There are lots of famous athletes in New Zealand but not many transcend their sport the way that he does. We expect the interest in this fight to match anything we have ever done in New Zealand."
Adding to the intrigue of the bout is Ustinov’s background as a combat soldier. While Tua was working his way to his title fight in 2000, Ustinov was taking part in four combat operations on the Chechen border where his heroics saw him awarded the prestigious Order of Courage for 'services to the Fatherland’.
"For different reasons, there will be two heroes in the ring on August 31," Mr Higgins said. "Both hold the title of ‘The People’s Champion’ in their respective nations. Both, of course, believe their destiny is to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world sometime in the future. And there’s a good chance the winner of this contest, will get to do just that."
Hydr8 ZERO David vs Goliath bout at Claudeland’s Arena on August 31 will be shown on Sky Television’s Arena platform. General Admission tickets are on sale at www.ticketek.co.nz.