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Tim Tszyu and Dennis Hogan ready to rumble in Steel City showdown

“We have had history here and it’s only been positive,” said the 26-year-old Tszyu 17-0 (13) who will face two-time world title challenger Dennis Hogan 28-3-1 (7) at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on March 31.  

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Tszyu-Hogan March 31
Tszyu-Hogan March 31

The New South Wales town of Newcastle is situated at the mouth of the Hunter River just a two hour drive up the coast from Australia’s largest city Sydney.

 

The large regional centre was built on the back of the mining industry and like many blue-collar towns it has a strong boxing background dating back to the 1800s.

 

The Maitland Wonder, Les Darcy, fought 10 of his early bouts here. Mickey Tollis made numerous ring appearances at Newcastle Stadium in the 1940s. And in the 1990s Kostya Tszyu made Newcastle a home away from home, fighting there seven times including world title defences against Roger Mayweather and Jan Piet Bergman.

 

It would seem a natural then that the undefeated son of Kostya, Tim Tszyu, would return to the region that showed his father so much love.

 

“We have had history here and it’s only been positive,” said the 26-year-old Tszyu 17-0 (13) who will face two-time world title challenger Dennis Hogan 28-3-1 (7) at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre on March 31.

 

“I was only a little young kid when dad was fighting here in Newcastle. It’s good to be back here, to be fighting on my own card, to be fighting in the biggest fight of my life and to be doing it in front of Newcastle.”

 

Tszyu is coming off a successful 2019 largely unaffected by the global coronavirus pandemic that effectively shut down boxing worldwide for a number of months. In August he travelled to Townsville where he dominated and stopped former WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn 20-3-1 (13) before annihilating world-rated New Zealander Bowyn Morgan 21-2 (11) in a single round in Sydney.

 

Those victories have put him in line for a shot at newly minted WBO junior middleweight titleholder Brian Castano 17-0-1 (12) who thoroughly outclassed Patrick Teixeira 31-2 (22) in Indio, California on the weekend to be crowned champion.

 

Tszyu’s world championship ambitions will be put on hold if he can’t get past the tough Brisbane-based Irishman.

 

“It’s nothing personal, but these boys are trying to take away everything I’ve ever worked for,” Tszyu said. “They are trying to take away everything I’m going for. I’m coming in for one purpose. It’s not just to win but to stop my opponent and get rid of him. Again, nothing personal but I want this more than anything.”

 

Hogan has mixed with a much higher calibre of opponent than Tszyu during his 10-year pro career. The 35-year-old was unlucky to lose a razor-thin majority decision to then-WBO 154-pound champion Jaime Munguia 36-0 (29) in Monterrey, Mexico two years ago. A step up to middleweight to face WBC champion Jermall Charlo 31-0 (22) in his next fight proved ill-advised when the undefeated American stopped him in seven frames at Barclays Center in Brooklyn in December 2019. Shifting back down to his natural weight class will allow the Australian-based Irishman to capitalise on his pure boxing style.

 

“For those world title fights I’ve always been the B-side far away from home,” Hogan said. “I do consider Australia my home and even though I’m the B-side, I certainly believe I’ll get a get crack of the whip here.

 

“I don’t have to travel all around the world, diminish my energy levels and I’ll be in training camp in Brisbane with my whole crew right up until a few days beforehand. Everything is cracking up to be my best performance by far and I am going to deliver.”

 

As for the judges, Hogan is confident he will get a fair shake if it goes to the cards.

 

“I just have to have faith, don’t I?” he said. “You go in good faith. My only loss before [the Munguia fight] was in Germany where I knew I had to fight a different gameplan and all the travelling and everything. That was a fight I felt I could’ve won after learning the lessons from that one.

 

“I’ve gone to Germany, I’ve gone to Mexico for decisions, America to Barclays Center with Charlo, so why would I be afraid to come to Newcastle? You just have to hope that people can see what’s happening in the ring and I’ll get a fair decision.”

 

Tszyu was asked about Hogan’s disputed loss to Munguia that cost him a world title.

 

“Look, the history books don’t say that. A loss is a loss. You can’t go back. But look, he’s going to be a tough competitor, a tough challenge. But these are the type of fights you want,” Tszyu said.

 

“If you want to be the best, you’ve got to take out everyone who is on top of you or who is around you. He’s a great competitor. As they say, he is world class but I think he is just under that world class because he has never been able to go to that top level. I need to beat a Dennis Hogan to be where I want to be.”

 

Hogan, a textbook boxer, says he sees aspects of Tszyu’s game that he can exploit.

 

“As a fight progresses there’s many, many ways to change things up,” Hogan said. “What I see a lot of the time in power punchers – and I think Tim would fall into that category – is that a lot of the time they rely on their power and they don’t nurture all the other skills that need to be nurtured.”

 

Tszyu offered a coldblooded assessment of how the fight will play out.

 

“I see another confident opponent who isn’t underestimating me but who doesn’t know what they’re running into,” he said.

 

“That’s the best thing about boxing. Once you get in the ring, everything from before, everything after that, everything shuts away and it’s just you and your opponent in that particular moment.

 

“You’re able to suck the soul out of them and everything they’ve ever believed. And again, that’s my goal. To take their soul and their belief and everything they’ve ever worked for and think they would’ve had in that particular moment. It’s not just a W, it’s taking everything away.”

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