Less than 24 hours before their career-defining rematch, David Tua openly admitted he should have lost last year's controversial draw with Monte Barrett.
The American is the first and only man to floor Tua in his 57-fight professional career, but the 12th-round knockdown in Atlantic City wasn't enough to convince the judges.
Boxing insiders have disputed the decision ever since, but before now, Tua refrained from a confession. On the eve of this self-tagged redemption, however, Tua conceded he escaped what would have been just his fourth loss.
"In my heart I thought I did [lose], without a doubt," Tua said after weighing in at 110.8kg yesterday, more than 9kg heavier than the trim 100.9kg Barrett.
Tua's admission should worry Barrett. The fact Tua was so forthright in his statement suggests a strong desire to set the record straight. Using his outward demeanour as a guide, Tua appears to have recaptured the same determined inspiration he harnessed when dominating Shane Cameron with a furious second-round stoppage in 2009.
David Higgins likes what he sees. The Duco Events businessman promoted Tua's victories over Cameron and Friday Ahunanya, and thought his frame of mind was sharp.
"I think ... Tua to knockout Barrett in the fourth round," Higgins predicted.
"Tua is angry Barrett put him down. You know how he came out against Cameron, you'll see that same anger."
If Tua, who firmly believes he has a second world title shot left in him, loses to Barrett in Manukau tonight, retirement is imminent. That scenario will see him fall off the list of credible heavyweight contenders.
What more motivation does he need?
"I'm ready to fight," Tua, 38, said. "I've got a family to look after. It's not just about winning fights anymore. It's about living. That's the only thing that matters to me.
"t's about controlling the emotions and staying top.
"I'm really looking forward to a good test, to see what I can do."
Tua feels comfortable if the battle for the WBO Asia Pacific and Oriental Belts goes the distance, but he weighs five kilograms more than he did when he first squared off with Barrett and that could cause fatigue and sloppy defence in the later rounds, should it get that far.
David Tua v Monte Barrett
TV: Sky Arena, $29.95.
From: 7pm tonight
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