Tim Tszyu’s quick rise through Australia’s boxing ranks en route to a possible world title fight next year was only made possible because of his last name, according to two-time world champion Billy Dib.
Tszyu’s bout against New Zealander Bowyn Morgan at Bankwest Stadium on Wednesday night is a WBO super-welterweight title eliminator, and is on pace to become one of Australia’s biggest PPV fights on record.
The fight is the first stadium boxing event in Sydney since Anthony Mundine and Danny Green clashed at the Sydney Football Stadium in 2006. That fight racked up around 200,000 buys and the Sydney Super fight is trending towards surpassing it, according to The Daily Telegraph.
It’s understood that pre-sales for the fight have already secured more money than Tszyu’s previous fight with Horn and the Queenslander’s match-ups with Manny Pacquiao and Anthony Mundine.
Hunt swings at Gallen during weigh-in
Facilitating the massive spike is the co-main event with league legend Paul Gallen against MMA great Mark Hunt, but there’s no doubt Tszyu is a drawcard on his own after fighting on the undercard of Gallen’s fight with John Hopoate not long ago.
The steep rise could continue with a win tomorrow night; Tszyu will be fighting for the WBO super-welterweight title in his next fight if he can overcome Morgan.
The opportunities appear endless for a fighter who has only 16 professional fights to his name. Even though fighters have been given similar opportunities without much experience, like Anthony Mundine, Tszyu also hasn’t fought anyone of note barring Horn; yet he’s rated among Australia’s best pound for pound fighters, like the Moloney brothers and George Kambosos.
“The reason why Tim is where he is today is because of his father,” Dib told Wide World of Sports.
“It has nothing to do with Tim. I know he’s worked hard but if it wasn’t for his father’s name, Tim would be just another regular fighter.
“He wouldn’t have these pay-per-view fights. Obviously Main Event and others want to build him up to be a star.”
If there was ever a sport where a name or reputation sells – it’s boxing. Career boxers often have to fight tooth and nail for any sort of media attention, especially Down Under, where sports fans are more inclined to watch a couple of footballers go at it than two skilled pugilists who have dedicated their lives to the fight game.
Tszyu’s presence in the ring also has an air of curiosity about it, with older fans keen to see how he rates in comparison to his famous father, creating interest on a tabloid level.
However, if somebody else without the Tszyu surname amassed a record against the type of fighters he’s faced, then it would be difficult to see the same type of interest generated, Dib says.
“He’s Kostya Tszyu’s son, obviously that gives him a platform,” Dib said. “He hasn’t fought anybody really of note yet but he will and then he’ll be tested.
“He’s faced everyone he’s needed to face so far in his apprenticeship and he’s passed with flying colours.”
The super-welterweight division is dominated by US star Jermell Charlo, with Patrick Teixeira holding the WBO belt.
If Tszyu emerges victorious against Morgan at Bankwest, he will take on Teixeira for the WBO belt in 2021. That can only happen if Teixeira’s bout with contender Brian Castano isn’t staged before January 6.
COVID restrictions have stopped Teixeira from leaving his native Brazil and the WBO says he’ll relinquish the title if he can’t fight within three weeks, creating a path for Tszyu and Castano to fight it out for the championship, with Teixeira relegated to No.1 contender.
Regardless, Tszyu has been touted as an international contender and has the pulling power to boot, although the level of competition increases exponentially at the next level.
“Whether he can do that against the Charlos, Jarret Hurds, the Tony Harrisons, I don’t know,” Dib said.
“But we’re going to see because he’s going to earn his opportunity and then when he goes to the US, it’s going to be sink or swim – but I’m sure Australian boxing will back him no matter what happens.”