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Hype builds over big face-off


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Hype builds over big face-off




Hyperbole is a staple in boxing's diet and 100 years is a long time.


But there's no denying the sense of anticipation and fascination that is building ahead of "New Zealand's Fight of the Century".


After years of talk and months of preparation, the country's two premier heavyweights, David Tua and Shane Cameron, will finally get it on in Hamilton on Saturday.


Promoter Duco expects that, come fight night, the indoor venue at Mystery Creek will be host to a full house of 8000 boisterous fans.


Duco director David Higgins makes no apology for adopting the Fight of the Century line.


"The media coverage will be unprecedented," he said.


"The year-long build-up, the polarisation of the country, the fact that both men have credibility and either man can win, the sheer public interest generated - I think it can justify that."


There was also the reality for both boxers that their hopes of shot at a world crown would probably evaporate with defeat.


Tua has had one go at reaching the sport's summit, in Las Vegas in 2000, when he became the first New Zealander since Tom Heeney in 1928 to challenge for the world heavyweight title.


Like Heeney, who was stopped by American Gene Tunney, Tua came up short.


His bid foundered in a lopsided defeat to Briton Lennox Lewis, who used his height and reach advantage to grab a unanimous points verdict.


In recent years, Tua's career has been more about what has happened outside the ring than inside, namely, his bust-up with manager Kevin Barry.


Their long-running dispute is still going through the courts and coincided with Tua's drop in fight activity.


His last bout was back in September 2007, a second-round TKO of American Cerrone Fox that took his career record to 49 wins (42 by knockout), three losses (all on points) and a draw.


Tua's key weapon is his devastating power, particularly his feared left hook.


He decided against a lead-up bout before facing Cameron, concentrating instead on his conditioning and removing the excess kilos that had accumulated on his body.


By all accounts, the "Tuamanator" has been applying himself with great diligence and observers remarked on the transformation in his physique when he opened his camp to the media last month.


His trainer, American Roger Bloodworth, said he had had never seen Tua work so hard.


People who believed Tua, at 37, was too old and too slow would get a shock, Bloodworth said.


"This is probably the best condition I've seen him in since going back to his early 20s."


Tua was given added time after the bout was postponed because of a hand injury that Cameron aggravated in his win over American Robert Davis in Gisborne in March.



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