August 15, 2001 – By Paul Upham: David Tua is ready to show the world that he is a changed man. The “Tuaman” says he has taken his training to new levels in preparation for his IBF heavyweight title eliminator with IBF No.2 Chris Byrd this Saturday night at The Cox Pavilion at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
“My actions will speak louder than my words,” said IBF No.1 Tua on Tuesday from his Las Vegas training camp. “I have been training very hard for this fight. ‘The General’ (Joe Goossen) has been very kind and hard on me. The team has been great. I am just looking forward to going out there Saturday night and performing to the best of my ability.”
Tua’s manager Kevin Barry truly believes that the fans will be stunned at the changes in Tua.
“In the nine years that Tua and I have been together, we have never had a camp like this. After last November, we knew we had to make some adjustments in our training methods and the way Tua was performing and living as a professional athlete. To his credit, Tua has made those changes. He has turned his whole life around. He is more disciplined and dedicated than he has ever been before,” said Barry.
“The first change in Tua happened when we brought Joe Goossen on board and fought the top IBF heavyweight at the time, Danell Nicholson. A lot of people were critical of Tua in that fight (pictured). We were happy with the results Goossen achieved over the first six weeks. This time, they have had 10 weeks together. We knew it was going to take a couple of camps before we would really see the true benefits.
“For this fight, we made more changes. We brought together a team of specialists, using state-of-the-art training methods and worked as one to construct the best Tua. I know the people are going to be very surprised when they see Tua on the scales Friday and in the ring on Saturday. This is a ‘Tuaman’ that we have not seen before. We are going to see a very exciting fight.”
After doing a lot of talking before his disappointing loss to Lennox Lewis last November, Tua is now relying on his performance in the ring to speak for itself.
“I am very prepared to do whatever it takes. I have been working and training hard with Goossen. All that is left for me is to go out and fight. Talk is cheap. I am going to have to go out and let my actions speak for themselves,” said Tua.
“I am well prepared for this fight. I have done my homework. The hardest part now is waiting.”
After receiving such great criticism over his weight in recent fights, Tua says he has been fully committed to his preparation for Byrd. “Everything has been very hard in this camp, including the dieting and training. This is the longest I have had to be disciplined. I have been on a low carbohydrate, high protein diet. It has been a very challenging thing for me because it is something I have not done in the past. I prefer the opposite diet from the one that I am on right now, but I am really enjoying it. I have complete faith in the guys that have prepared everything for me. The diet has helped push me beyond what I have done in the past,” said Tua.
“I am working with a great trainer that has worked with a lot of top athletes. To have him on board has been a blessing. In the past, all the trainers I had wanted to see if they could break me. I am not about that. Now, my trainer works with me. He explains everything he does and everything we work on resembles what Goossen wants me to work on.”
A good performance and victory over Byrd will propel Tua further away from that night in November against Lewis, which will haunt him until he redeems himself. He will not forget it, rather use it as a tool to better himself and allow the best ‘Tuaman’ to win the heavyweight championship of the world.
“The Lewis fight was a learning experience. I am a big believer in saying everything happens for a reason. I do not think it was too early for me to challenge for the heavyweight title. I am glad it happened because I would not have gone through the changes to better myself. I am approaching myself in a different way and approaching my career as a professional. All my homework is done now,” said Tua.
On paper, Chris Byrd is a dangerous opponent for Tua. He is a defensive southpaw who will look to stay out of Tua’s punching range all night. If Byrd gets it right, Tua will be chasing him for the entire 12 rounds.
“Byrd is a fighter nobody wants to fight. He can make you look bad. It is not very exciting as far as the fans are concerned. I have done my homework. There are no weak links. I have done everything to prepare and left no stone unturned,” said Tua.
Barry agrees that this fight is completely different to Tua’s last victory, a knockout over Danell Nicholson last March.
“Byrd is shorter and likes to trade punches. We have to be a lot more active in this fight to break his rhythm. Tua has thrown more punches than in any other sparring session. You will see a much busier Tua in this fight,” said Barry.
“I am prepared for the expected and unexpected. The hardest part is waiting for the fight,” said Tua. “To be frustrated in the ring is something I have to put myself through and conquer in the gym. You are ready for anything when you do your homework. I am in great shape mentally and physically, so it will be hard to break that.
“I think different fighters have different strategies. It has been hard for other fighters to look good against Byrd. My strategy for this fight is to not get frustrated or get discouraged because of his awkward fighting style. When it is all said and done, I have done my homework. I just want to fight. I wish the fight was today.”
For all the criticism Tua has received recently, he is the only man to hold victories over the two current heavyweight champions, Hasim Rahman (WBC/IBF) and John Ruiz (WBA), both of them by knockout.
“To have done all that, knocking out both current champions, is a great accomplishment for me, but I am not dwelling on that or using it to boost my confidence,” said Tua.
“Confidence is something I have in me. It is a part of me. It is a great feeling, but this is a different fight with a different strategy. I have been working very hard for this fight and I am looking forward to it. It is time to go to work.”
Tua is another fighter who has benefited from the IBF’s new policy of having the highest available ranked contenders box-off for the mandatory defence position.
“It is great because a lot of time, nobody wants to fight each other, especially the top guys. I think it is a great thing so the right matches and the right fights are taking place,” said Tua.
A win over Byrd will put Tua in the heavyweight title picture with current WBC/IBF champion Hasim Rahman, his first defence Lennox Lewis in November and Mike Tyson who is the mandatory contender for the WBC title.
But Tua is looking no further than his fight on Friday night with the former WBO heavyweight champion. “To be totally honest, I have no future plans but to win this fight first,” said Tua.
“David is focusing on Byrd. We know that the winner of this fight has the mandatory due by April 21 next year,” said Tua’s promoter Dan Goossen.
“Anything can happen in the next few months as we have seen in the heavyweight division. Whoever that person is, we don’t care. All we care about is David Tua. As we said last year and we will say it this year, we feel that he has the most talent of any heavyweight in the world.”