David Tua will be given a royal welcome to the Waikato today.
The Kiwi heavyweight boxer will meet Maori King Tuheitia Paki on the banks of the Waikato River in Ngaruawahia this afternoon.
Tua is relocating to Hamilton for Saturday night's clash with giant Belarusian Alexander Ustinov.
The Maori King feels Tua is worthy of an official welcome to the region as the boxer heads south from Auckland.
Tua, a proud Samoan who was raised in Auckland, is relishing the prospect.
He is a hugely popular figure in the area, particularly after his 2009 demolition of Shane Cameron in Hamilton.
Saturday night's fight at Claudelands Arena is all but sold out.
Promoters Duco Events said that as of yesterday, "only a couple of hundred" general admission tickets remained available.
It's been an emotional week for Tua as he prepares for a fight that will shape the twilight of his career with a world title shot the likely bonus for the winner.
Tua was stunned by the sudden death of fellow Samoan great Peter Fatialofa.
He attended the memorial service on Monday night for the Auckland and Samoan rugby personality who died of a heart attack in Apia last week, and was disappointed at being unable to attend yesterday's funeral as he gave a final press conference in Auckland.
Tua initiated an appropriate gesture at that conference.
"I'd like to dedicate a moment of silence for a great major, a great hero, a great bloke in Peter Fatialofa," Tua said before doing any fighting talk.
When the minute's silence was observed, Tua said he believed Fatialofa "is here with me". Fatialofa had a great love of boxing.
"I knew Fats very well, he was one of the brothers ... it's a great loss," Tua said.
"The memorial service was a lot of fun ... there was a lot of laughter going on, a lot of great stories."
- Fairfax Media
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