Cameron-Barrett to headline Explosion

RETURN TO RING: Shane Cameron will face-off against Monte Barrett, who halted David Tua's career last year.
RETURN TO RING: Shane Cameron will face-off against Monte Barrett, who halted David Tua's career last year.

Shane Cameron will return to the ring and to heavyweight boxing on May 30 – to meet Monte Barrett, the American who halted David Tua's career last year.

After months of negotiation and a late attempt to stage a third fight between Tua and Barrett, the Sunday Star-Times can reveal that a deal has been brokered by David Higgins, the promoter who staged the Tua-Cameron "Fight of the Century" in 2009.

Higgins says Cameron-Barrett will headline the first in an annual series called Heavyweight Explosion and he is chasing leading Australian and Kiwi heavyweights to figure on the undercard.

And, after fans saw just 10 rounds of boxing across six fights on last Wednesday's Sonny Bill Williams-Clarence Tillman show in Hamilton, he says the card will be a backlash to under-funded, over-hyped shows that have left Kiwi punters dismally disappointed with the fare on offer.

Australia's top match-maker has been signed to ensure the card will be quality, and among fighters he's negotiating with are former league players Solomon Haumono, John Hopoate and Monty Betham, the well-regarded 17-1-2 Australian Mark De Mori and, intriguingly, the world-ranked American Chauncy Welliver, who holds the New Zealand NBF heavyweight title.

"We want to put on such a good show that attendees and viewers say `that was great', we build a following and build boxing into its rightful place in this country," Higgins said.

The Duco Events boss secured Barrett's signature after outbidding Ken Reinsfield, Cameron's long-time manager, to promote the fight. Reinsfield offered Barrett $100,000 for the fight last November.

The two fighters have been given flat purses but Higgins said he would consider adding a knockout bonus. He wouldn't confirm a venue or television rights but it seems near-certain the fight will be a Sky pay-per-view event.

Asked if this was a far less impressive fight than Tua-Cameron, given Barrett's age (40) and Cameron's two years in the lower cruiserweight division, Higgins claimed: "It could be a vastly better fight than Tua-Cameron – it could go down as the most entertaining fight in New Zealand history. Their sizes, heights, weight, dimensions and styles give it the recipe to be a great fight, an even fight ... it could be a bloodbath."

Speaking from his home in America last night, Barrett said he knew little about Cameron but had seen clips of the hiding he copped from Tua in Hamilton two years ago.

He also said that he wasn't prepared to give legendary Kiwi heavyweight Tua "the time of day" any more.

"Shane Cameron's like a ghost to me. I don't really know too much about him," Barrett said.

"Ghosts can be good and bad but of course I'm going to get some tape of him to study during training.

"I checked him out online and there's not a lot there about him except, of course, when he fought David Tua and you can't tell much from watching a person get the crap beaten out of him in one round.

"But I believe in giving people second chances."

Cameron's manager Reinsfield confirmed that the purse on offer for his fighter would be the second-biggest of his career after the $500,000 he was paid to get in the ring with Tua.

The Mountain Warrior will have to bulk up after shedding more than 10kg to fight in the cruiserweight division.

"I think this fight is something a lot of people will be interested in," Reinsfield said. "Styles make fights and just because Tua caught Shane with one punch and it was over and Barrett's beaten Tua, that doesn't mean he can beat Shane."

Cameron said a fight against a man who conquered Tua would also give him the chance to erase the painful memories of The Fight of the Century.

"Tua trained his arse off to take care of me and he caught me a good shot in the first round.

"I still live with that every day and it annoys me and plays in the back of my mind.

"There's a little bit of redemption here."

Cameron also said he wanted the fight in order to win back the WBO Asia Pacific and WBO Oriental heavyweight belts Tua had taken from him and then "gifted" to Barrett.

The return to the heavyweight division, however, is not expected to be permanent and talks about a fight against top Aussie cruiserweight Danny Green are ongoing.

Sunday Star Times