Tszyu the favorite, but Ritchie a live underdog
By Anthony Cocks
Tim Tszyu 13-0 (10) will take on the toughest test of his career when he faces Dwight Ritchie 19-1 (2) over 10-rounds at the ICC Exhibition Centre in Sydney on August 14.
It’s an intriguing match-up that pits the fast-rising and ambitious Tszyu, 24, against a light-punching but vastly more experienced opponent.
The 27-year-old Ritchie from Shepparton in regional Victoria turned pro a decade ago and has competed in 24 pro bouts – his first four outings were retrospectively rule no contests after it was discovered he was boxing underage. ‘The Fighting Cowboy’ as he is known is accustomed to fighting on the road, competing interstate a number of times and twice travelling to Japan for OPBF title fights in 2016. It’s unlikely the big stage and bright lights will negatively affect him.
Tszyu has been groomed for success from an early age. The eldest son of International Boxing Hall of Famer and former undisputed junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu, boxing has been a part of Tim’s life since before he could walk. But unlike his famous father who reportedly had 270-odd amateur fights, Tszyu 2.0 only had a handful of fights in the singlets before turning pro.
That’s not to say there aren’t similarities. Tszyu has a patient, stalking style reminiscent of his famous father and his accuracy and shot selection draws comparisons too. His punching power, while above average, falls short of Kostya’s heavy hands, but there’s no disgrace in that. Tszyu is also a tremendous finisher and doesn’t let his man off the hook once he has him hurt.
Tszyu took a step up in class in his last outing when he challenged then-national 154-pound champion Joel Camilleri. The experienced and awkward Melburnian was expected to provide Tszyu with a stern test but the young Sydneysider was able to nullify Camilleri’s lunging attacks and box his way to a comfortable 10-round points victory, just the second time Tszyu had been past six rounds in his almost three-year professional career.
That experience will serve Tszyu well against Ritchie, who has been the 10 or 12 round distance seven times.
Ritchie is not known for his power but he is comfortable facing punchers and has shown a good chin throughout his career. He also typically boxes better as the rounds progress and if he can absorb Tszyu’s early onslaught and take the fight deep he will have a real chance of springing the upset.
The real question here is whether the light-hitting Ritchie can get a decision on the road against a fighter being touted as the next big thing in Australian boxing.
Expect a distance fight with Tszyu winning a close, competitive and perhaps controversial decision.