By Duncan Johnstone
Heavyweight boxer Kali Meehan sees "no glory" in fighting David Tua after ending the career of another Kiwi contemporary Shane Cameron last night.
Meehan had too much size and power for a valiant Cameron, winning a unanimous points decision over 10 rounds at the North Shore Events Centre.
Tua has indicated he would be willing to make a comeback to fight last night's winner.
But it will take some major persuasion from the promoters to convince the 44-year-old Meehan there is still merit in a fight he has longed for but now seems disinterested in. In his mind, the opportunity has clearly come too late.
"I think David's at the stage of his career where you just have to give him respect," Meehan said.
"I think he and Jimmy Peau were the pioneers of New Zealand boxing's revival and they really did make a name for themselves in the States and it got everyone tuned in here.
"I think we should do something for David in the boxing scene where he's respected.
"We could wait and see if he really wants it. But if I was to beat David Tua now, what have I done? If I had fought him at his prime, maybe I would have been knocked out, but I would have had a go. I think if I fight him now, there's no glory in that for me.
"All these years I've been wanting to fight Tua. But I don't think Tua's training for fighting any more. We just have to take respect for the man … see what happens."
Meehan had to be convinced to fight June's Super 8 last man standing contests and won that. He then had to think hard about taking on Cameron in a legacy fight. Meehan might yet be convinced to rethink his stance on Tua though it seems his mind is set on fighting another veteran – 42-year-old American Shannon Briggs, the former WBO champion who has become something of a circus act with his persistent and often ill-timed (or stage-managed) challenges to current heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko.
"That's a fight that I think 'wow, Shannon Briggs' … if we could do that in Auckland, it would be unreal," Meehan said.
But Meehan reiterated his priority was to oversee the immensely promising career of his 19-year-old son Willis who won his professional debut on last night's undercard.
That in itself was a dream come true for Meehan, the Auckland-born fighter who took his game to Australia and made his name around the world, often without Kiwi fight fans even realising his exploits.
Meehan said 2014 had turned into one of the happier years of his career with his dual successes in Auckland.
"It really is. To fight back at home in west Auckland was a buzz, it really was. I've fought at a packed Madison Square Garden but no one knew who I was. But it is what it is.
"Then to fight with my son on the card, that was just unreal. You can't write these scripts. Maybe that was just reward for being patient."
He felt he had earned some respect with this hard-earned victory over Cameron.
He had envisaged winning with an early knockout but had also prepared for the 10 rounds and that's the way it played out as Cameron survived an early onslaught and then came back into the fight on the back of a good jab and some solid body shots.
But Meehan was always landing the bigger punches to keep ahead on the judges' cards though their scores of 91-99, 92-98 and 93-97 appeared generous.
"I was quite confident that if I was able to land some shots on him early on that he wouldn't have been able to continue. But his fitness is there – he's extremely fit. You can take some punishment if your fitness is there. I hit him with some clean shots but he's the Mountain Warrior," Meehan said respectfully.
"He got me with some nice body shots but I calculated those and just tried to get ahead. It's been a long time since I've done 10 rounds so I could feel it. I took my rests and got away with what I could."
Cameron ends a worthy and memorable career with a third consecutive loss after defeats to Danny Green and Brian Minto.
The 37-year-old finishes with 29 wins (22 KOs) and five losses.
A cut left eye and bruised face told the story of another epic battle but Cameron said it was about living up to his word and retiring in defeat.
"I'm disappointed but the better man won on the night. I couldn't deliver. It was a tough fight on the night. He's a big strong man. It was too much for me," Cameron said.
"He was too wild - he was leaning on me, making me tired. His fight plan came off, so credit to Kali.
"I managed to get inside, I just didn't do enough. I didn't do what we had planned. He made it hard for me. As soon as I'd get in close he'd shut the distance down."
Cameron said it was an emotional time but he knew he could look back on his career and accomplishments with pride, particularly the boost he helped give the New Zealand boxing scene.