Tim Tszyu Has Street Dreams in Vegas

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The undefeated 154-pound World Champion plans to light up Sin City when he battles former unified world champion Keith Thurman Saturday, March 30, in a PBC pay-per-view available on Prime Video.

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Tim Tszyu Crashes Keith Thurman's Instagram Live and Things Get HEATED | FULL REPLAY

America’s fascination with all things Australian increased dramatically in 1986 with the release of Crocodile Dundee, an action/comedy starring Paul Hogan that became the second highest-grossing movie that year both in the United States and globally. 

Two years later, a U.S.-based, Aussie-themed restaurant chain, Outback Steakhouse, opened at its first location in Tampa, Fla., and television commercials for the popular eatery quickly made “put another shrimp on the barbie” a recognizable catchphrase. Such Australian musical groups as AC/DC, Little River Band, Men at Work and Air Supply have had hit songs that received ample air time on American radio stations.

Although other Aussie boxers had periodically tested the waters in America, it was a Russian-born émigré to Australia, Konstantin Borisovich Tszyu, who would establish himself as the Crocodile Dundee of pugilism in the States. A 2011 inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Kostya Tszyu – face it, his full name was too long to fit on arena marquees or in newspaper headlines – compiled a 31-2 record with 25 knockouts from 1992 to 2005, for a justifiably celebrated portion of that time reigning as the undisputed junior welterweight world champion.  “The Thunder From Down Under,” now 54, fought in the U.S. 15 times in all, five of those bouts taking place in that most ostentatious extravagance of neon lights, Las Vegas. More than a few boxing historians rate him as the greatest Australian fighter of all time.

Timofei Konstantinovich Tszyu – better known to fight fans as Tim Tszyu, for obvious reasons – is the defending WBO Junior Middleweight World Champion, and prepping to match or even exceed the wondrous career feats of his father. No, Tim Tszyu (24-0, 17 KOs) – whose nickname is “The Soul Taker” – isn’t that unfamiliar with the U.S. boxing scene, having scored a 12-round unanimous decision over Terrell Gausha on March 26, 2022, in Minneapolis and trained on four occasions in the Las Vegas area, but he considers his March 30 bout with former unified welterweight world champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs) to be his true American coming-out party.  It’ll be his first main event in his father’s favorite professional visitation site, and against someone who is inarguably his most accomplished opponent. 

Should Tszyu, 29, win, and as convincingly as he insists will be the case, the path to worldwide superstardom just might open wide and clear, even if his title is not on the line in this instance. The scheduled 12-rounder, the first headline attraction of Premier Boxing Champions in its new partnership with Prime Video, will be televised via Pay-Per-View (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) from the T-Mobile Arena, giving the card an additional veneer of history.

“The winner of this fight will be considered the best 154-pounder in the world,” Tom Brown, president of TGB Promotions, said at the introductory press conference, which might be overstating the case, but maybe just by a bit barring future developments.

The 35-year-old Thurman was as chirpy as ever, proclaiming that the fight “is about proving to the world that Keith Thurman was, is and will forever and ever be one of the greatest fighters in the sport of boxing.”

As has been his wont, Tszyu declined to engage Thurman in a two-way verbal hissy fit. Like his legendary dad, he knows what he needs to do on fight night and he intends to make an indelible statement with his fists, not his rhetoric. 

It’s not just winning. It’s winning in emphatic fashion, spectacular fashion. Undefeated WBO Junior Middleweight World Champion -Tim Tszyu

“It’s not just winning,” he calmly said in a subsequent interview. “It’s winning in emphatic fashion, spectacular fashion.”

And Tszyu’s thoughts on Thurman’s apparent intention to get under his skin like a persistent rash, which might yield beneficial results in the ring?

“He’s like a WWE character, like a chihuahua,” Tszyu said, dismissively. “He needs to dress up in a little chihuahua suit because all he does is yak, yak, yak.”

Make no mistake, Tszyu fully understands what a dominant performance against Thurman could lead to. The junior middleweight division is already thick with elite or near-elite fighters, the kind against whom Hall of Fame resumes can be built, and it could get fatter still if some standout welterweights move up to 154 as is anticipated. As those ranks increase, presenting opportunities for the kind of major fights Tszyu craves, he is focused on transforming his dreams of greatness into reality. And he is insistent that any elevation to the very top of the mountain will be made in the United States, not his homeland.

“I’m basing myself in America,” Tszyu insisted. “It’s simple. I’ve outgrown Australia. What I’ve done there was a great period of my time, but this is on to a new chapter. There are big names, there are super fights at 154, names like Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford, even Jermell Charlo if he wakes up to himself. One day I might even move up and take on guys like Canelo (Alvarez).

“I’ve been training out of Vegas for a few camps now, but to be fighting here – and not to take the easy road, but the hard road – has been built in me since I was a young kid. What my dad did influenced the way I take my life and my business decisions now.”

Interestingly, despite all those times Kostya Tszyu came to America to ply his trade, he did not bring Tim and his other future boxer-son, Nikita (8-0, 7 KOs), a 26-year-old junior middleweight known as “The Butcher,” along to share the experience. To Kostya’s way of thinking, and apparently Tim’s, too, there must be a line separating family and fighting, with quality time reserved for each.

“My dad was strictly business, which is the same to me,” Tim explained. “Small team, small entourage, keep it quite simple. Don’t let family get in the way.

“I’m preparing for this fight in Henderson (a suburb of Las Vegas). Yeah, you can see Vegas, Everything’s really close by, but we’re really sort of isolated. It’s gym, home, gym, home. It’s a quite simple life.”

Although it might be said that even a possibly ring-rusty Thurman presents the sternest test yet for Tszyu, the Aussie said the Clearwater, Fla., fighter can’t and won’t be victorious even if he is at the top of his game.

“I want the best of Thurman,” Tszyu said. “I want there to be no excuses. But the best Keith Thurman doesn’t beat Tim Tszyu on any given day.”

For a closer look at Tim Tszyu, check out his fighter page. 

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