The former U.S. Olympian is better than ever ahead of his showdown 154-pound showdown versus unbeaten Tim Tszyu Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.
Is that a reasonable take on their 12-round super welterweight main event Saturday night at the Armory in Minneapolis in a PBC on SHOWTIME event (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), a matchup that could lead directly to a championship fight?
It’s understandable that Tszyu, the gifted son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, is favored but Gausha is a live underdog for a number of compelling reasons. Here are three of them.
Fighting on a big stage is nothing new to Gausha (22-2-1, 11 KOs). He represented the U.S in the 2012 Olympics and has faced Erislandy Lara (for a world title), Austin Trout and Erickson Lubin as a pro. He lost decisions to Lara and Lubin but insists he’s a better fighter as a result. That’s why a matchup with the Tszyu (20-0, 15 KOs) doesn’t faze him.
Tszyu, meanwhile, had a relatively short amateur career and has fought exclusively in his native Australia. He has impressive victories over Jeff Horn, Dennis Hogan and Takeshi Inoue – which have generated a great deal of excitement -- but even he said he’s coming to the U.S. for more meaningful challenges. Also, the fact that this is Tszyu’s U.S. debut could be a factor. He doesn’t know what it’s like to fight professionally in a foreign country. Gausha has an edge in experience.
Tszyu is hungry. The fire that burns within him, wherever it comes from, is one reason he has overwhelmed one opponent after another down under. However, the 27-year-old could lose to Gausha, learn from the setback and then resume his pursuit of a world championship. He’d have time to do that.
Gausha, 34, has a different hunger, the kind you have when you know you that this might your last chance to realize your dreams of becoming a world champion and earn big money. Gausha must win this fight if he hopes to get a second shot at a major title. And when a fighter can’t afford to lose a fight, when he’s fighting to stay relevant, he becomes an alley cat that feels threatened. In other words, he becomes particularly dangerous.
Of course, neither experience nor hunger means anything without ability. And, obviously, Gausha has that. One doesn’t advance through the U.S. amateur program to the Olympics without natural gifts and refined skill. Tszyu, with a reported 34 amateur fights, doesn’t have that kind of amateur foundation.
Gausha has excellent footwork and a stiff jab that sets up a heavy right hand and occasional left hooks. He also has poise, a product of so many years in the ring. He patiently waits for opportunities and then, when he sees them, he fires off explosive, accurate shots. One more thing: He has had trouble with southpaws (Lara, Trout and Lubin). Tszyu is right-handed. In the end, Gausha is arguably the toughest opponent Tszyu has ever faced.
For a closer look at Terrell Gausha, check out his fighter page.