By Liam Napier
David Tua is expected to make his comeback against Russian-born giant Alexander Ustinov.
Sunday News understands a deal has just been signed off for the 36-year-old Ustinov - ranked 10th in the WBA and seventh in the IBF - to fight Tua in New Zealand on August 31. An announcement is expected this week.
The 2.2-metre Ustinov, who now resides in Belarus, a country tainted with doping history, holds a credible 28-1 record with 21 knockouts.
His only loss came against Kubrat Pulev last year.
Duco Events had previously agreed terms for Tua to fight Luis Ortiz, only for the undefeated Cuban to double his asking price to $200,000 at the last minute, which saw the contract fall through.
Ustinov beat American gatekeeper Monte Barrett, the only man to knock down Tua, with a unanimous point's victory in 2009.
He also holds a 53-9 kickboxing record and fought once in New Zealand.
The 40-year-old Tua has been attempting to lose weight and get in shape to fight for the first time since losing to Barrett two years ago in Auckland.
Ustinov could prove problematic for Tua. With a history of having trouble against taller fighters, he will be giving up 24cm in height.
Duco promoter David Higgins was coy when pressed by yesterday to confirm a deal had been completed with Ustinov.
"We've got nothing to announce yet other than to say it could be or it may not be," Higgins said.