OPINION: David Tua's career is an enigma of New Zealand sport.
Since turning pro in 1992, the South Auckland scrapper has consistently captivated and then bewildered the country.
While his ability has seldom been called into question, his motivation, or lack of it, has seen him drift down into the fat underbelly of journeymen and poor pay days.
Given the string of poor pugilists to have stepped into the ring with Tua during the past few rounds of his career, it's easy to forget just how good he once was.
The man with the big left hook sat quality boxers such as Hasim Rahman and John Ruiz on the canvas, while few who saw the way he destroyed former champ Michael Moorer will forget how devastating the former Olympic bronze medallist could be.
Tua could justifiably argue his career was stalled at just the wrong time when he was forced to sit ringside as an ugly court case with former mentor Kevin Barry played out.
While many men would have simply unlaced the gloves and gone about raising his family among a tight-knit Pacific Island community, Tua has, to his credit, battled back.
The way he has come back to what, for him, is pretty good physical condition has been a points decision of his own. Boxing demands a stamina few sportsmen can attain and he deserves to be respected, no matter what his critics argue.
Whether he gets another title fight is questionable.
The heavyweight division, for so long the domain of quality tradesmen, is now a mad mix of circus freaks controlled by men with fewer scruples than some of the dictators being driven out of power in the Middle East.
Still, Saturday night's bout in front of a pretty sparse crowd at least offered some relief from the world's worst rugby commentators, who were busy delivering more drivel from inside a saturated Sydney stadium.
Amateur productions often bring out the bizarre and listening to Howard "Dobbo" Dobson rev it up on the microphone before the opening bell of the Tua fight was another example.
Not that the bell came quickly – not after it was decided to play not one, not two, but three national anthems as the boxers went cold in their corners.
While it would have been nice to see Tua's opponent, American journeyman Demetrice King, show some sort of intent to punch instead of defend, the night at least allowed fight fans a chance to see Tua's experience win him all 10 rounds, the last of which providing more entertainment than the previous nine.
- © Fairfax NZ News