Tua and Rahman: Are They Still Capable of Winning a Heavyweight Title?
With the recent comeback bouts for former two-time heavyweight boxing champion Hasim Rahman (43-6-2, 34 KOs) and one-time heavyweight challenger David Tua (49-3, 42 KOs), the question on the minds of most fans is whether either of them have a chance at winning a title given their relatively old age (both being 34-years old), their tendency for being overweight, and for choking in important bouts.
While both have been successful in winning their bouts since they’ve started their comebacks, neither of them have came close to fighting quality opposition, largely fighting sub par fighters that are made to order to look good against. Tua recently stopped a fighter named Cerrone Fox (8-6, 8 KOs) last Friday night, a fighter that that had no business being matched up with someone of Tua’s class.
While Rahman fought Dicky Ryan (55-10, 44 KOs), whose record appears impressive until you give it a good look and discover that it’s filled with opponents with less than impressive records. The main question, however, is how will Tua and Rahman do when they do finally step it up against first class opponents. In the case of Tua, he’s showed that he still has extraordinary power in his last three bouts against Robert Hawkins, Saul Montana and Cerrone Fox. He’s knocked out two of three of them, which is nice, yet he’s also shown that he’s even slower than he used to be when he was in his prime seven years ago in 2000.
To be sure, Tua has always had problems with fighters that stayed on the outside and boxed him, like Oleg Maskaev, Chris Byrd, Lennox Lewis, Fres Oquendo and Hasim Oquendo. Somehow Tua was able to reach back and stop most of them in the latter rounds, but appeared to be very fortunate to do so considering how badly he trailed in each of the fight. Of course, he failed completely against Lewis and was made to look bad in losing a 12-round unanimous decision in 2001. So with six years removed from a former title shot at Lewis, could Tua beat the top fighters in the division at age 34? Let me state right away, I don’t believe he could beat any of the current champions – Sultan Ibragimov, Wladimir Klitschko, Oleg Maskaev or Rulan Chagaev – especially Wladimir, who box circles around him and possibly knock him out.
That wouldn’t be a good fight for him, although their are rumors of him maybe fighting Wladimir early next year. For Tua’s sake, lets him that turns out to be false, because he’s not ready to fight Wladimir at this point, even more so because of the kind of opponents that Tua’s faced in his seven fights during his comeback. However, there is a bit of hope on the horizon. Maskaev will be fighting Samuel Peter on October 6th for Maskaev’s WBC heavyweight title. I think Tua matches up well with Peter, who is a rather poor boxer with poor stamina. Though I think Peter has improved somewhat since being beaten by Wladimir, I still think Peter is a very average boxer.
However, the biggest reason I see Tua beating Peter is because the Nigerian fighter likes to stand in front of his opponents and trade shots. Normally, that’s not a problem for Peter because he’s stronger than most of them, excluding Wladimir, who made him pay for his bravado, but against a fighter as powerful as Tua it doesn’t pay off to stand in front of him. This, then, would seem to be Tua’s only hope for a title. However, if Tua goes forward and opts to fight Wladimir Klitschko early next year, look for Tua losing by knockout.
For his part, Rahman would seem to have the better chance at winning a title in the near future. He’s currently ranked #4 in the WBC, and with the likely scenario of Peter beating Maskaev, this sets up a potential match up with Rahman and Peter. Now I know that Rahman has had terrible luck in losing by knockout to Maskaev twice, and Lennox Lewis, as well being beaten by Holyfield and Ruiz, yet I he still can box effectively when he wants to, enough certainly to beat a crude slugger like Peter. I don’t think for a second that Rahman would approach a fight with Peter anything like he did in bouts against Maskaev or Ruiz, whom he had little to fear from due to their more average power. For this reason, I see Rahman staying away and using his super long reach to jab at Peter and keep him neutralized for an easy 12-round decision. Vitali Klitshko, however, was supposed to have first dibs at fighting the winner of Peter-Maskaev, but with today’s report of Vitali’s injury to his spine which required spinal surgery, it looks like he won’t be ready in time to face the winner of the bout. This means that Rahman has a good chance of getting a shot at the title.