Tim Tszyu looking forward to big fight against former champion Jeff Horn
By Anthony Cocks
Boxing is a sport full of contradictions. Former gym-mates can become enemies when there is enough money on the table to make a fight and lifelong foes can find friendship when their fighting careers are over.
At the official media conference to announce the Jeff Horn 20-2-1 (13) versus Tim Tszyu 15-0 (12) 10-round junior middleweight fight in Sydney on Tuesday, the undefeated 25-year-old from Rockdale revealed he draws inspiration from his opponent’s underdog win over eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane in 2017.
"What Jeff did in stepping up to Manny Pacquiao is a true example of what any fighter can achieve," Tszyu said.
"I’m ready for this step and that’s the same way Jeff approached the fight with Pacquiao. He was ready no matter what all of the people were saying.
"He probably would have never thought he would fight against Pacquiao, but it happened and he got it done. He won. It was an inspiration and it does inspire me to go to that next level."
Since winning the WBO welterweight strap against Pacquiao in front of 51,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium, Horn has had mixed fortunes in the ring. He looked less than impressive in his first title defense against Gary Corcoran, dropped the belt to Terence Crawford in nine rounds in his second title defense, blew out an ancient Anthony Mundine in 96 seconds and split a pair of fights with Michael Zerafa.
The 32-year-old former schoolteacher looked better in the rematch in December, but the fight wasn’t without its drama. Once again, he found himself in trouble in the ninth round, the same frame that Zerafa stopped him in last August. Pacquiao had him all but out on his feet in the same round two-and-a-half years ago.
Horn says he has learned his lesson from the ups and downs over the past two years.
"I learned my lesson the first time against Zerafa, not to underestimate someone. I’m certainly not going to do the same thing against Tim," Horn said. "I know what position he’s in. He’s at the stage I was at when I fought Pacquiao. I was at that hungry level and I was going to prove myself and to all you guys that keep talking.
"Fighting him now is definitely earlier in his career but I can’t underestimate him. He’s a great fighter, he’s got it in his blood and he’s going to come out swinging. He could quite likely be a multiple world champion one day and replicate what his dad did."
The highly anticipated clash, which will determine the clear number one 154-pound boxer in Australia, is set down for April 22 at a venue to be confirmed.
Venues in the running include Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium and the Brisbane Exhibition Centre, but it is believed there has been interest from Perth and Melbourne as well to host the bout. A final decision on the venue could take another month.