Tua vs Cameron: the fight of the century
FINALLY, IT’S going to happen. After three years of name-calling, suspicion and protracted, often heated, contract negotiations, Shane Cameron will fight David Tua in what is being called New Zealand’s fight of the century.
The Sunday Star-Times can reveal that Tua will meet Cameron on Saturday, June 6, most likely at Auckland’s Vector Arena. In a Kiwi first, the fight could screen on Sky’s pay-per-view. Each man will collect $500,000 in prize money and, potentially, a huge boost to their international careers.
The final paperwork will be exchanged at a press conference on Thursday, but the two fighters, who have spent three years embroiled in a public slanging match, posed together for our photographer at the ASB Bank’s high-security vault to prove that the fight is on.
The only remaining hurdle is that the promoter, 29-year-old Auckland businessman David Higgins, must now raise more than $1m to cover the purses and other upfront costs, plus find a TV deal inside four months, to ensure the bout goes ahead. He has a get-out clause if Cameron loses a warm-up bout against Leo Nolan in Gisborne on March 7.
Cameron is ranked sixth in the world by the World Boxing Organisation, and Tua fought for the world title against Lennox Lewis in 2000. This fight will make one career and break the other, although neither would concede that defeat in June would be career-ending.
Tua predicted victory would kickstart his career and help him box on for four more years.
Cameron said it would propel him into a top two ranking and, therefore, a guaranteed world title contest.
A jubilant Higgins, who got final agreement from Cameron’s camp on Thursday night after a series of concessions, declared: “It transcends boxing. It will be one of the biggest occasions in New Zealand history.”
He has enlisted former TVNZ chief executive Ian Fraser to sell broadcast and sponsorship deals, and guitarist Gray Bartlett to devise the entertainment package.
While Cameron had always wanted to fight Tua, the fight nearly foundered on his camp’s demands. But Higgins finally agreed to them: a matching purse to Tua, the right to fight in Gisborne and personal financial guarantees from Higgins and business partner John McRae that, whatever happened, the boxers would be paid.
“I have been pretty tough in negotiating this deal, but the thing is they came to us with the stance that it wouldn’t happen unless we went through Duco [Higgins’ company],” said Cameron’s manager, Ken Reinsfield. “If I am not gonna promote it, I am sure as hell going to get the best deal, and I am happy we’ve done that…
“It’s fair to say they have had to concede a fair bit.”
Higgins said he was “now carrying slightly more risk than I was a month ago” but added “nothing great is ever achieved without a bit of risk”.
Tua would never have taken the fight if Reinsfield was the promoter, but said he had huge trust in Higgins and actually signed his contract before Christmas.
The fight was born after long-time Tua associate Greg McCashan met Tua at league player Ruben Wiki’s testimonial dinner last year. McCashan was doing some work for Duco and mentioned to Higgins that he’d bumped into Tua. Higgins immediately suggested a Cameron-Tua fight. Over coffee at an Onehunga cafe last August, McCashan broached the subject with Tua. Since then, he said, it had “been a long and winding road”.
Both camps are talking themselves up. Cameron: “I’m too sharp, too fast, too strong for him, I am gonna set a pace on him that no one ever set on him before. I am gonna throw a lot of punches.”
Tua, who has world-renowned punching power, said he hoped Cameron would “come to fight. You hear a dog bark, but you never see them bite”.
Cameron said: “That’s the fight he wants. I am not gonna give him what he wants.”
Thanks to Stuff & TV3 ~ look forward to Oct 3rd!! The Smack Down in H Town!!