DAVID Tua says Va'aiga "Inga" Tuigamala has given him "the peace of mind" to help resurrect his heavyweight boxing career.
Tuigamala, the former All Blacks great who made a successful transition to rugby league, has turned his hand to helping manage Tua and promote his March 19 clash with American Demetrice King in south Auckland.
It will be Tua's first fight in eight months since his controversial draw with Monte Barrett, where the Kiwi-Samoan was put on the canvas for the first time in his career.
With time ticking away on his hopes of getting back into world title contention, Tua knows how crucial the right result against King is.
He says having an old friend such as Tuigamala in his corner is allowing him to focus fully on his fitness and glovework.
"I'm very happy and lucky to find myself reconnecting with Inga again," Tua told Sunday News.
"It gives me peace of mind knowing he will take care of that [management] side of things. I can concentrate on my boxing."
Tua is thrilled by Tuigamala's brainwave to hold the fight in his old stomping ground, dubbing the King bout as a "Backyard Brawl".
"Oh man, I think I was 17 years old the last time I boxed in south Auckland. So I'm really going back.
"It will be a fantastic opportunity for a lot of up-and-comers and for the grassroot boxers," he said of the undercard that has a Pacific Islands feel to it.
Tuigamala's quest is to keep Tua busy and has already announced a follow-up fight in June, even though the opponent hasn't been finalised.
A rematch with Barrett in Auckland looks most likely, although old foe Hasim Rahman and ageing warrior Evander Holyfield are other big names being put into the mix.
Tua doesn't want to be drawn into that debate right now, preferring to concentrate on getting his career back on track against King.
"The great thing is we have options," Tua said.
"Inga can work really, really hard negotiating with those options and see what adds up and what is a good fight for me."
With the King fight signalling the end of his restrictive Maori Television deal, Tua knows a good payday beckons in June.
That will be a motivating factor to put King (15 wins, 19 losses) away in style.
Tuigamala has been impressed with the way 38-year-old Tua has knuckled down to his fitness work after rehabilitating the shoulder injury that restricted his efforts against Barrett in New Jersey.
On the back of an eight-week fitness camp, Tua looks in good shape as he gets into his ring work.
But it is Tua's mental shape and general enthusiasm that impresses Tuigamala.
"His drive amazes me for someone who has been going at it so long," Tuigamala said of Tua, whose professional career is now into its 20th year.
- © Fairfax NZ News