Martin relishes working with David Tua

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 18/03/2011
David Tua
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax Media
FISTS OF FURY: David Tua and American Demetrice King will face off in a heavyweight fight in Manukau tomorrow night.

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Veteran boxer David Tua reckons he still has up to five years left in the heavyweight game and you won't get any argument from the new coach in his corner.

Chris Martin has been the trainer charged with teaching an old dog some new tricks ahead of tomorrow night's showdown with American Demetrice King in Manukau.

And Martin couldn't be happier with the way the highly experienced Tua has responded.

In the absence of veteran American trainer Roger Bloodworth, Martin gets a career opportunity almost as important as that in front of Tua, who has to make an impact against King if he is to reignite his world title dreams.

A successful trainer of top New Zealand amateur talent (Steve Heremaia and Soulan Pownceby were under his guidance early in their careers), some fledging men's and women's pros as well as making an impact in the corporate boxing arena, Martin knows there will be scrutiny over what influence he can have on the 38-year-old Tua's methods this late in his career.

Not that Tua is contemplating bringing the curtain down just yet. Financially he can't afford to and personally he remains driven to stay active.

"I've got three, four, possibly five years left," Tua said when asked how long he could keep going. "I believe in my whole game and the belief of a title shot still burns."

Martin, a 47-year-old Aucklander, has always had huge respect for Tua so he welcomed the chance to have some input into the biggest name in modern New Zealand boxing.

He spent December pouring over tapes of Tua's fights and came into camp with ideas to improve Tua's movement, workrate and combinations. He got immediate buy-in from his charge.

"I probably felt a little bit of pressure at the beginning with David because he has been around a bit and with the level he is at," Martin said.

"But that was removed very quickly when we started working together. We have known each other for a long time, though not in this capacity. But the position of coach and boxer just happened very naturally.

"I pointed out some areas I wanted to see developed and he was very receptive. He has given me his trust – he told me that two weeks into the camp and I didn't need to hear anything else."

As a fighter Tua might not be a Rolls Royce but his talent is far bigger than the Mini Minor he drives around in these days.

"He has great fundamentals and you can see the work those American trainers have done with him," Martin said.

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"But there are still areas that I've been able to have input in and he has responded very well to some of my ideas and philosophy. It's just about adding a few things to his armoury and he felt the changes were relevant and productive. A boxer is always a work in progress – there is no such thing as a perfect fighter."

Martin could say the same thing about his job as a trainer.

"It's a been a great opportunity for me. I've been around for a while and I've worked with some very good talent in New Zealand.

"I definitely feel like I've done my apprenticeship so stepping up to work with David has been a good gauge for me as well."

While he has concentrated on Tua, part of Martin's job has also been scoping out King. That hasn't been so easy with limited video footage of the 26-year-old's 34 fights.

"But I have some contacts in the United States and I have asked about him. They say this guy can fight. We have trained hard and we are taking him very seriously ... on Saturday night Demetrice King is the most dangerous man on the planet for us."

- Stuff

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