WHILE Tim Tszyu continues to live in the shadows of both his famous father, Kostya, and, for now, Jermell Charlo, it is becoming increasingly clear that he is about to break out from these shadows and stand alone.
Tonight (October 15) in Broadbeach, Australia, he took his professional record to 24-0 (17) with a unanimous decision victory over the American Brian Mendoza and not only retained his WBO super-welterweight title in the process but appeared, on the face of it, to have knocked down the final obstacle in the way of meeting Charlo, the world’s number one super-welterweight.
After the fight Tszyu, with Charlo clearly on his mind, said: “Charlo, where’re you at, buddy?” Then asked what he reckoned the American would think of his win against Mendoza, Tszyu added: “He’ll probably in his delusional head think he’s going to beat me. Come and get it. Come and get it.”
Clearly, Tszyu, a chip off the old block, is keen to test himself against the best. Moreover, as shown tonight against Mendoza, 22-3 (16), and in previous fights, he has no fear of staying active and taking risks during the wait for the fight that will, one suspects, ultimately define him.
That, of all the things that make Tszyu such a force at super-welterweight, is perhaps the one aspect that shouts louder than the rest. Because it obvious now that he backs himself and that he has complete confidence he will not just stay unbeaten as he waits but that he will, when the time comes, make the most of his opportunity. He also has full belief this opportunity, which can be granted by Charlo, a man he has chased for some time, will soon be his; that is, he refuses to subscribe to the notion that Charlo is for some reason avoiding him.
“He fought Canelo, man, the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world,” said Tszyu. “He’s the best at 154 pounds, but now let’s really prove who is the king of the division.”
In what could represent his final stop on the road to finding out, Tszyu tonight defeated Mendoza by scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 116-111, all of which suggest a decent, competitive fight. And it was, too, until Tszyu’s superior engine and physical strength saw him open things up in the second half of the fight and ultimately overwhelm the brave but limited American.
He will know more will be needed against Charlo, of course, should that fight materialise next, but there can now be no doubt that Tszyu, at the age of 28, is ready to test himself against the best.