Tim Tszyu never fit the lippy fighter archetype.
As the son of legendary Australian boxer Kostya, that would have been too easy a character to inflate.
Instead, the 26-year-old – now on the precipice of a world title shot – treats its currency with the strongest intensities.
“It’s a blessing,” Tszyu said after his upcoming Wednesday night fight with Bowyn Morgan was upgraded to world title eliminator. “All of this hard work is turning out to be true.”
Tszyu deals only with absolutes. Not seduced by the high predictions or the exalted bravado of the combat sports world, Tszyu knows what he can control and will master it to the nth degree.
So when he explains how dominant he is as the most exciting super welterweight contender, he’s no jester. Take him to the bank.
“I’m a big boy in this division. These guys just don’t get it, it’s a whole different game,” Tszyu exclusively told Wide World of Sports.
“I reach 69.8 kg but I walk at 75 kg. So I go down. The cut is gentle on me.
“It’s all about control, controlling yourself, controlling your opponent. Few boxers know how to do this.
“For me, being able to control a fighter and do whatever I want is not a problem.”
It therefore seems appropriate that the night before his Sydney Super Fight, the port city faced a flood, as the mantra that prevailed before its clash with Morgan was all about water.
“I want to drown him,” Tszyu said without batting an eyelid. “It could be a fight where I don’t get hit once.
Macabre words for the average bettor but for Tszyu it’s dedication to a lifestyle.
Stories of daily 25km runs during seclusion earlier this year and of two and a half days of starving himself to test his limits, perhaps elucidate Tszyu’s level of courage.
That’s what got him so far ahead Jeff Horn, during his dismantling from the former welterweight world champion in August. And that’s what put him in the box for a shot against current world champion Patrick Teixeira or his compatriot Brian Castano next year; anyway with the title on the line.
“Yeah, sure,” Tszyu replies when asked if he’s surprised Horn wasn’t exposed to the country until tonight.
“I knew what Horn would bring to the table. He brings people into his game. If you make your own game and control your own combat, you can do whatever you want. Fortunately, I have it in my blood.
For better or worse, comparisons to his champion father will follow Tszyu throughout his career.
The old-fashioned training methods of Kostya in the Eastern Bloc are dotted throughout the famous Tszyu Boxing Academy in Rockdale, where his son now trains under posters of his father’s accomplishments.
Tszyu still has records of his father’s exploits at his age. Personal bests in squats, cardio and more are level-related – the only glaring difference being their maximum bench press. Kostya holds this record.
Power was arguably the one thing Tszyu lacked compared to his father’s KO ability.
“You’ll see this fight,” he laughs, talking about the difference between the bench.
“I’ve worked a lot on different things, of course, and one of them is power.
“A lot of people have good distance, a lot of people have good speed, a lot of people have good power. But your ability to control with your boxing IQ is something that can’t be learned.”