Ahead of Anthony Joshua's fight with Joseph Parker, we turn the clock back and remember the time Lennox Lewis took on David Tua.

History lesson: When Lewis made Tua pay in Las Vegas


On Saturday, heavyweight Anthony Joshua will try and add the WBO title to his collection when he faces Joseph Parker at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

Joshua's IBF and WBA belts will also be on the line in a unification bout that will have repercussions in a division enjoying a renaissance following an extended period in the doldrums.

With both boxers boasting unbeaten records in the professional ranks, someone will see their '0' go in the Welsh capital.

Parker will not be the first New Zealand heavyweight hoping to cause an upset against a British champion, though. Back in 2000, David Tua went up against WBC and IBF strap-holder Lennox Lewis in Las Vegas.

Here, we look back at the meeting between the big-hitting challenger with an impressive record and the future hall-of-famer.

 

THE BACKGROUND

Samoan-born Tua - or Mafaufau Tavita Lio Mafaufau Sanerivi Talimatasi to give him his full name - won a bronze medal representing New Zealand at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona before turning pro later that same year.

He was seen as a dangerous customer, small in stature compared to most heavyweights but someone who posed a sizeable threat with his trademark left hook. Felling fighters like a lumberjack during logging season, he had built his reputation on knockouts – and plenty of them, too.

Tua had won eight on the spin inside the distance going into the biggest bout of his career, all but one of those finishing inside three rounds.

Yet his list of victims lacked recognised names. A one-round knockout of John Ruiz was his most impressive performance, as he needed all of 18 seconds to flatten a fighter known for his durability.

Lewis, in contrast, was a thoroughbred. His pedigree wasn't in doubt, considering his CV included plenty of notable scalps.

Only Oliver McCall had beaten the Olympic gold medallist as a pro, and that blemish was avenged in a rematch best remembered for his opponent suffering an in-ring breakdown in front of a worldwide audience.

After beating Evander Holyfield at the second attempt following a disputed draw in their opening meeting, Lewis had emphatically stopped Michael Grant and Francois Botha to confirm his status as the best around in the division at the time.

 

THE FIGHT

The challenger made his way out accompanied by banging drums and the sound of a conch shell, briefly making the Mandalay Bay Casino feel like home.

Once the first bell sounded, however, Tua was all alone. He tried to take the attack to his more experienced rival, stalking him around as he controlled the centre of the ring.

His plan was obvious; get in close and land a big left hand in the hope of finding a weak spot in Lewis' chin. Instead, he suffered boxing's version of water torture, eating jab after jab as his hopes were methodically dashed by a technician with all the tools needed to get the job done.

Tua enjoyed fleeting moments of joy, yet Lewis always appeared in complete control. Able to move through the gears in the middle rounds, he used a probing jab to set up power punches with his right hand, all while remaining out of range for any counter measures that were launched his way.

The crowd didn't enjoy what they perceived as negative tactics, booing on occasions as all the pre-fight talk of a potential brawl failed to materialise, but Lewis and his trainer, the great Emanuel Steward, had concocted the perfect method to nullify the limited Tua.

It was a landslide points triumph. The three judges scored it 119-109, 118-110 and 117-111 in favour of Lewis, who landed a final parting shot on Tua during the immediate aftermath.

"If you come to war, you have to bring your whole arsenal, not just a left hook and a haircut," he said in his post-fight interview.

 

THE AFTERMATH

Lewis suffered a shock loss in his next outing, Hasim Rahman sensationally dethroning the champion in April 2001 thanks to a right hand towards the end of the fifth round.

However, he made use of the rematch clause to quickly claim his IBF, IBO and WBC titles back, knocking Rahman out later the same year.

Lewis went on to beat a fading Mike Tyson and, following a hard-fought triumph over late stand-in Vitali Klitschko in June 2003, bowed out on top. There were the occasional flirtations with a comeback but he never fought again, finishing with an outstanding record of 41-2-1, including 32 KOs.

Tua's hopes of securing another world title shot were dashed in 2001 when he was beaten by Chris Byrd in an eliminator for the IBF belt, while a draw in a second clash with Rahman two years later led to an extended break from boxing.

But, unlike Lewis, he struggled to stay away. Tua was put down for the first time in a draw with Monte Barrett in 2010 and subsequently lost in the rematch. Tempted back in 2013, a defeat to Alexander Ustinov rounded out a career that promised much but, ultimately, delivered little.



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