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David Tua knows what he has to do to beat Alexander Ustinov.
He just has a rather tall problem of getting to him first.
Tua is in his final weeks of preparation ahead of his November 16 showdown with the 2.07m Belarusian.
Yesterday, he was put through his paces with a four-round sparring session without headgear, followed by some pad work at his gym in Onehunga.
The session went for about an hour. Tua looked lean, showed impressive hand speed and proved he still has fierce power.
While at first the sparring tempo was low, the final two rounds saw Tua and Raymond Olubowale opening up and landing some big blows.
Tua said it was both physically and emotionally draining.
''That is why I had no headgear - because it allows me to not be too tough and do things as I would in a real fight situation, rather than get comfortable,'' Tua said.
''People get concerned about cuts, but you can just as easily get cut wearing headgear.''
He said he felt in great shape. He was unconcerned about fatigue setting in or losing power due to his weight loss of about 30kg, which would have him fighting at 105kg-110kg.
He was not going into the fight with a preconceived plan, but was aware of the need to wear the IBF No 8-ranked Ustinov down with good body shots.
Tua said his calf was fine, and while he would take the knockout win if it came, he was also ready for 12 rounds.
He described his power and hand speed as about 60%, but said come fight night it would be 100%.
Tua's trainer, Henry Schuster, said even though he had only been with Tua for about a month, he was impressed with his power and fitness.
He said he felt the full force of Tua during the pad sessions, where the slaps reverberated around the room.
''I am lucky I have got strong hands,'' Schuster said.
He said Tua would stop training a week out from the fight and concentrate on speed-related exercises.
Tua split with his old trainer, Australian David Hedgecock, after the postponement of the Ustinov fight on August 31.
Schuster said he was unsure how long he would be with Tua, and would just take one fight at a time.
Tua's sparring partners, Olubowale and Julius Long, have been Tua's human punching bags throughout his preparation.
Olubowale said Tua was by far the hardest puncher he had faced.
He said in his hometown of Ontario, Canada, he was ''a big fish in a small pond'', so sparring internationally worked for both Tua and him.
Long, who was knocked out by Ustinov in the first round of their clash in 2008, said Tua was a devastating puncher, and if he could stop Ustinov from leaning on him he would win.