Undefeated NABF champ Fres Oquendo was knocked out at The Harv.
By BOB ROTH
CHESTER, W. Va. -- After David Tua's November 2000 title bout loss to Lennox Lewis and August 2001 loss to Chris Byrd, he was no longer part of the big picture in boxing's heavyweight division.
That changed Saturday night in The Harv at Mountaineer Race Track and Resort when the Samoan, who resides in New Zealand, stopped undefeated NABF champ Fres Oquendo at 1 minute, 54 seconds in the ninth round of a scheduled 12-rounder.
Don Felix Trinidad, Oquendo's manager, said, "These things happen even to great fighters, but don't worry, Fres will be back and real soon."
Before a capacity crowd of more than 5,100 fight fans, the 243-pound Tua (40-3, 35 knockouts) came out swinging from the opening bell and never stopped until the fight ended.
He was the aggressor throughout, taking the fight to Oquendo with a strategy of taking the ring away from the taller and clever boxer from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Left jab: Oquendo (22-1), using a rapier-like left jab, kept Tua off-balance, setting him up for straight right hand shots.
Also with Tua continually coming at him, forcing him to the ropes endeavoring to land his explosive left hook, the NABF champ kept moving to his right avoiding the big power punch.
The fight seemed to be going Oquendo's way through eight rounds, but the champ's evasive tactics seemed to have him tiring with the approach of the late rounds.
When round eight was ending, Tua landed his best head and body combination of the fight, but Oquendo countered with his own fast combination before the bell.
Tua came out for the ninth round taking the fight to his opponent, but this time he connected with that big left hook and Oquendo had nowhere to go, as he was taken to the ropes in a neutral corner.
When the fight continued, Tua battered Oquendo on the ropes before the referee stepped in.
Oquendo echoed that sentiment, saying, "Take nothing away from Tua; he fought hard and really earned this victory." When asked if he agreed with the referee stopping the fight, he quietly said, "Yes."
Tua said he knew he was behind on points. "In round eight, I knew I had to get busy," he said.
Tua's trainer, Kevin Barry, said, "This shows that with his 87 percent knockout percentage, he is as hard a hitter as there is in the heavyweight division, but this was a very testing fight.
"Testing for my fighter and my nerves as we worked hard to get the distance down between David and Fres, which ultimately won the fight," Barry said.
Tua thanked Oquendo "for giving me a crack at the title."
When Tua was asked to compare Oquendo with Lennox Lewis as a boxer, he replied, "Fres is better as he moves better and puts his combinations together better."
When he was asked about his future and who he would like to fight next (Lewis or Mike Tyson), Tua said, "It doesn't matter, but I always wanted to fight Mike."