Tua's back, but can he still whack?

MURRAY GREIG -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

For anyone handicapping longshots in the heavyweight division, Salt Lake City will be the unlikely centre of the boxing universe on Aug. 18.

In separate 10-rounders on a pay-per-view card available to Canadian buyers, comebacking David Tua and Joe Mesi will show us if they should still be taken seriously.

Tua, 47-3-1 with 40 KOs, is one of the division's all-time hardest hitters. Although he's never held a title, he went the distance with undisputed champ Lennox Lewis in 2000 and holds victories over former champions John Ruiz, Oleg Maskaev and Michael Moorer - the latter a particularly savage 30-second demolition in 2002.

Tua's opponent at the South Towne Exposition Centre in Salt Lake City will be Mexican champ Saul Montana, who's 48-14 with 42 KOs.

"At this point in my career, every fight is a title fight," the 34-year-old Tua said in a tele-conference from his Utah training camp.

"That's my whole approach - mentally, spiritually and physically. This is it! I'm taking a different approach, in my second time around, to the sport I love.

"It'll be pleasing to get another title shot and winning it, which would seal my career. And I still have three or four years to do it."

As for Montana, a beefed-up light heavyweight who's fought world champions James Toney, Virgil Hill and Vassiliy Jirov, Tua said he expects the Mexican to come out swinging.

"He's got 42 knockouts. He will be well prepared just like everyone who fights me. I'm training very hard for him. Every fight is a new challenge.

"I'm not where I need to be yet, but I can feel it. I take it one fight at a time; no fight is an easy fight."

In the co-main event, the unbeaten Mesi (35-0, 28 KOs) will be looking to regain a world Top 10 ranking when he meets veteran trialhorse Sherman (The Tank) Williams (33-10, 19 KOs).

Mesi, 33, has wins over Jirov and fringe heavyweight contenders DaVarryl Williamson and Monte Barrett, but questions about his health continue to dog him.

The former No. 1 contender was inactive for two years because of a medical suspension brought on by neurological concerns, but he has won six straight on the comeback trail, including three by KO.

Williams has won eight in a row and is undefeated in more than two years. His last loss was a decision to current WBA champ Ruslan Chagaev in 2005.

"When I knock him out, the last thing I want to hear is that Mesi was damaged goods," Williams said.

"I'm a Christian. I don't want to hurt anybody and I pray for the guys I fight. Similar things (health issues) were said about Evander Holyfield, and he's looked great in his last two fights. I'm preparing now to knock out Joe Mesi."

Also slated to be part of the pay-per-view show is unbeaten heavyweight prospect Roman Greenberg (25-0, 17 KOs). Greenberg was born in Russia, raised in Israel and lives in England, where he's been dubbed "The Hebrew Hammer." He'll face American journeyman Damon Reed (46-11).

QUICK JABS: Tua stopped two-time Canadian champion Ken Lakusta in four rounds in 1994 ... Undefeated Montreal heavyweight Jean-Francois Bergeron (27-0, 17 KOs) has signed to fight seven-foot, 325-pound ex-WBA champ Nikolai Valuev (46-1, 34 KOs) Sept. 15 in Germany ... Canadian heavyweight champ David Cadieux (17-2) will defend his title against Robert Olubowale (4-1) Sept. 28 in Trois-Rivieres.


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