Alex Leapai taking Tua big a heavyweight leap

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 12:16 20/04/2014
Alex Leapai
CHRIS HYDE/ Getty
'PURE VIOLENCE": Alex Leapai is expected to bring an aggressive brand of boxing to his title fight.

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He's the second Samoan to box for the world heavyweight title but Alex Leapai faces the same challenges as David Tua in 2000.

Leapai battles Wladimir Klitschko for the WBO, WBA, IBF and IBO belts in Germany next Sunday and his biggest obstacle will be his physical shortcomings.

They're not quite as extreme as Tua's in his failed title bid in Las Vegas, but not far off.

Tua gave up 18cm in height and 35cm in reach to the giant Lennox Lewis. Leapai, a Samoan raised in New Zealand but long-domiciled in Brisbane, gives away 13cm in height to Klitschko and 16cm in reach.

No one discounts Leapai's power, and he therefore has a puncher's chance. So did Tua, but he failed to get anywhere near Lewis after the third round in a frustrating challenge that went the distance.

After taking one big shot - part blocked - Lewis was too clever to trade with Tua. Leapai's hopes also rest on engaging the big Ukrainian in an inside battle.

Leapai, full of the usual bravado that comes with these affairs, is promising to be busy.

"In boxing, one punch can change the whole story but I am not depending on that one punch," said Leapai as he left for Germany.

"I will be honest. I am going out there to bash him, not just one punch."

Talk is cheap in the heavyweight ring, especially against a fighter as clinical as Klitschko who last lost 10 years ago.

But that 2004 defeat at the hands of Lamon Brewster did highlight the vulnerability of Klitschko's chin. The three losses in his 64 fights have all come via knockouts.

Klitschko has made Europe a safe haven for his titles and Leapai is realistic enough to admit he is going to need to floor the champion to claim one of sport's most coveted prizes.

"I am training for 12 rounds and this is Germany we are going to, it's really hard to win there especially against this guy," he said.

"But to be honest, this is not going to go the distance.

"I am going to knock this guy out. Klitschko is going to be hitting hard but I will be ready. I am going to go to war with this guy and he is not going to like what I am going to give him.

"On April 27, Australia is going to have a new heavyweight champion."

Win, lose or draw, Leapai is in for a big payday. He will pocket A$1.5 million for his night's work.

Leapai has won 30 of his 37 fights and 24 of those victories have come via stoppages, testimony to his punching power, though the quality of his opponents can certainly be questioned.

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This is a major step up for the 34-year-old, though he earned the right for the title shot - and a huge dollop of confidence - by beating German- based Russian Denis Boystov in Germany last November, gaining the judges votes in a unanimous decision over 10 tough rounds.

- Sunday News

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