The future looks bright for Tszyu, but what about Horn?
By Anthony Cocks and Zack Fitzpatrick
Undefeated junior middleweight Tim Tszyu 16-0 (13) announced his arrival on the world stage with an eight-round beatdown of former WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn 20-3-1 (13) at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville, Australia last Wednesday night.
Tszyu was methodical but certainly not mechanical, shifting through the gears as he increased the pressure in every three-minute stint. Just like boiling a frog.
The 25-year-old Sydneysider showed composure and discipline beyond his years as he meticulously took apart the more experienced fighter. Tszyu varied his attack round after round, focusing on the head for the first three frames before mixing in body shots with both the right and left hand. The right uppercut also became a potent weapon against the lunging Horn as the fight wore on.
Horn, 32, was down twice in the fight and seemed surprised by Tszyu’s strength in the clinches where he usually has the advantage. The fight was stopped at the end of the eighth with an exhausted Horn slumped on his stool.
The future looks bright for Tszyu, but what about Horn?
Zack Fitzpatrick from Australia’s leading boxing podcast The Unofficial Scorecard joins me again as we analyse the fight and take a peak forward at what’s next for both fighters.
Anthony: Tim Tszyu delivered on all his promises on Wednesday night, comprehensively outclassing Jeff Horn and stopping him in eight. What were your key takeaways from the fight Zack?
Zack: Absolutely blown away. It was clear from the jump that Tim and the whole of Team Tszyu 2.0 had meticulously prepared for everything Jeff Horn was going to bring to the table. I did not anticipate Tim’s improvement from his last fight and honestly, it took me a second viewing to really appreciate how brilliant he was last Wednesday night AUS time. What were your thought Tony?
Anthony: Like you, I was impressed by his continued improvement. Tim had Jeff down in the third and went after him in the fourth, but then wisely switched up his attack downstairs to break down the more experienced boxer. He kept Jeff guessing with his shot selection throughout the fight and, surprisingly, outmuscled Jeff on the inside.
Zack: Great point mate, as with Michael Zerafa’s short right uppercut in the first Horn fight, you were the first to point out to me the strength differential on the inside in Tim’s favour for this fight. I agree completely, the strength inside coupled with Tim’s blinding speed advantage were the two big takeaways early in R1. What also became evident later in R1 was that Tim was so expertly prepared for specific situations that he and his team expected to arise on fight night. I was so impressed with Tim’s execution early in the bout, but also how well drilled he was when a specific sequence the team foresaw arose.
Anthony: I know Tim worked extensively in camp with former Australian champion Joel Camilleri on that inside rough stuff to help prep himself specifically for this fight rather than ‘another’ fight. It paid dividends. Another point worth noting was the job done by referee Phil Austin, who I thought was very even-handed in the way he managed the contest, pulling up both guys for infringements on the inside.
Zack: I wouldn’t say this was a great fight, at least from a fan perspective, but it was a great performance from Tszyu. Two questions, what could Horn have done to close the gap and get himself back in the fight? And how far do you think Tim Tszyu can go?
Anthony: I would’ve love to have seen better footwork and more feints from Horn, as he showed against Manny Pacquiao. But it seems that version of Jeff has disappeared into the rear-view mirror. As for Timmy, the sky’s the limit. He has an expert team around him managing his career and giving him the right step-up fights at the right time. I think WBO 154-pound champion Patrick Teixeira is a tough but winnable fight, even more so if takes place a year from now. It’s not just his performance against Horn that impresses, but his continued improvement from fight to fight. He will only be better in 12 months time. As for Horn, where would you like to see him go from here?
Zack: Tough question to answer but I think we’ve seen Jeff’s peak. The overseas market sees Jeff as an outlier who slipped through the cracks and can’t wait for him to be gone. In AUS we see him as a national legend who is solely responsible for getting the sport back on TV regularly. The Liam Wilsons and Isaac Hardmans owe Jeff a debt of gratitude, as we do as fans, as the guys who have turned pro after his famous fight with Manny Pacquiao clawed boxing back into the limelight. Having said that, I think it’s time. A relatively short career that was concluded with 6 or 7 insanely tough fights, he’s done enough. I would like to see him hang the gloves up, what more is there to prove?
Anthony: Agreed. Five of his last seven fights have been wars. Even in victory, he takes more than his fair share of punishment. He doesn’t have a style that’s built for longevity. But one thing he can say with absolute confidence is that not only did he beat future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao, he rejuvenated the sport in this is country and inspired a whole new generation of fighters. Not a bad legacy to have.
Zack: 100%. Jeff Horn won’t go thirsty in any pub I’m in that’s for sure. Back to Tim, as you mentioned, his improvement fight-to-fight is staggering. I’m biased obviously, but he strikes me as the type of boxer that could literally be anything in two or three years. If you had the keys to the Team Tszyu 2.0 bus, where would you be taking him next?
Anthony: Tough question. I’d like to see him spend another year developing, but you wouldn’t want to see him take a backward step either. An obvious matchup domestically is Michael Zerafa, but outside of that I would be looking at bringing out a fringe contender or former champion to Australia. At least we can provide a live gate out here in Australia now, so a reasonably purse for a name fighter to be flown out should be available.
Zack: Yes mate, I’m with you on this one. I agree, there is no rush and a fight with Michael Zerafa I feel is the way to go. I get the argument that Zerafa lost to the guy that Tszyu just dominated but we all know styles make fights. It should be noted that Zerafa fought Horn for the second time six weeks after the tragic sparring session when in Dwight Ritchie passed away from a congenital heart condition. There is an argument to be made that it was a massively compromised Zerafa heading into that Horn rematch. Either way, I love the fight. I favoured Zerafa before Tim put on this most recent masterclass and now I’ve flipped, I think Tszyu should be the favourite. We also know Zerafa would approach a Tszyu fight totally different than the way Horn did. I get that Team Tszyu feel they are done domestically and I wouldn’t blame them for seeking overseas opportunities. Bias again, but I’d love to see Michael get another big opportunity and if Tim wins, he would truly have cleaned out his own backyard.
Anthony: The only other domestic matchup left is against Dennis Hogan.
Zack: Tszyu vs Hogan honestly doesn’t fire me up. Hogan arguably has a couple fights left at most and seems to have a plan in place overseas. I’d like to see him stay on that path and let the two young guns, Tszyu and Zerafa, fight it out for domestic bragging rights. What are your thought on a potential matchup between Tim and Hogan?
Anthony: I would favour Tszyu in that fight too. I think his power, accuracy, rhythm and timing would give him the edge against Hogan’s craftiness. Either way, I’ll be happy if Tszyu stays busy with blokes in or around his class.
Zack Fitzpatrick presents The Unofficial Scorecard podcast, covering all things Aussie boxing and the broader international scene. Get it in your earhole here: podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/the-unofficial-scorecard-podcast/id1417204298