By Liam Napier
The winner of tonight's Super8 main event between heavyweights Shane Cameron and Kali Meehan could be pitted against David Tua next year.
Cameron and Meehan square off at the North Shore Events Centre on a card that also sees leading Kiwi cruiserweight David Aloua take on rugged Australian Anthony McCracken in a rematch of their 2012 brawl - won via split decision by Aloua.
Of the eight cruiserweights that contest the Super8 tournament, which features a $154,000 prize pool, Australian Brad Pitt and Samoan Vitalie Soi are the favoured contenders to progress to the final from opposing sides of the draw.
Meehan's son, 19-year-old Sydney Roosters back-rower Willis, also makes his pro debut against durable Will Quarrie.
Ultimately, though, Cameron and Meehan will take centre stage. And if they needed any added motivation, Tua may have provided it.
Following his one-sided loss to towering Belarusian Alexander Ustinov 12 months ago, Tua declared his heart was no longer in the sport.
But on his 41st birthday yesterday, Tua revealed he was in talks with Sky Arena to fight the winner of Cameron-Meehan next year.
Tua indicated issues surrounding his personal life contributed to his underwhelming performance against Ustinov and said he was genuine about coming out of retirement.
"It's something I've been thinking about straight after the last fight. There were a lot of things happening in my personal life so it was hard to put a definite answer on it," Tua said.
"Everything is all clear now and I think it's time to get back into it. Everything I say I speak from the heart; I don't just say things to promote the event. I'm working with Sky Arena and we'll see what happens.
"Yeah, it's realistic. I'm going to try and sort out a few bits and pieces for next year and then make a definite decision."
Tua did not have a preference about fighting Cameron, who he knocked out in devastating fashion in 2009, or Meehan, who he beat in the amatuer ranks. He was also well aware of the hard grind ahead if he was to get in shape.
"To be honest, no. What ever will be will be. It's about looking forward and seeing what the possibilities are. Either way there would be good interest there. It will be interesting to see how it pans out.
"I'm definitely out of shape but I know it's not a factor. I've done it many times before. Nobody wants to comeback and lose.
"You're always going to have the naysayers. You can't stop that. At the end of the day it's about following your passion and following what you love to do. It's great to have the doubters because it fuels the fire."
Sky Arena director John McRae was enthused about the prospect of Tua getting back in the ring.
"This fight between Shane and Kali is about a legacy. For the winner to fight David, that would be the triumphant for New Zealand boxing. We've had discussions on and off. It's all about timing. The desire is there from both parties.
"They're the three kings of New Zealand boxing; the three pillars for the last decade. To see who the ultimate king at the end, that would be something the public would like to see."
Opinion on tonight's main event is divided between an early Meehan stoppage or Cameron points decision. In the build-up Meehan has plugged his power, height and reach, while Cameron should have superior stamina and conditioning.
"That's one way to look at it, but in the heavyweight division one punch can change everything," Tua said. "Shane showed that when he beat Monte Barrett, someone who I went 24 rounds with. He took him out with one shot. With that in mind anything can happen.
"You can predetermine certain things and imagine a strategy, but on fight night the approach can be completely different. I know this will be an exciting fight."