THE eyes of the wider sporting audience will be transfixed on Sydney’s ICC Exhibition Centre on Wednesday night.
Prodigious talent and unbeaten professional Tim Tszyu (13-0, 10 KOs) will test the merit of his fast rise against world rated Victorian Dwight Ritchie (19-1, 2 KOs) for a slew of light middleweight regional titles.
We asked our panel of experts for their opinion on a fight that could be too difficult to decide.
Chris McCullen, trainer:
Tszyu W10 Ritchie: I’m a big fan of both boxers and I thoroughly enjoy what they bring to the ring.
I love everything about this match-up. When I think about it, I like Ritchie’s style and I think he’ll give Tim nightmares at times throughout the fight.
I think Tim will know his last fight wasn’t his best performance so I’d expect Tim will be out to prove a point.
This is a cracking fight on a cracking card and I don’t think we’ll see a better card for a long time. Tim to win on points using his boxing skills. He’s a super talent.
Pat Kennedy, matchmaker:
Tszyu W10 Ritchie: This one is a bit hard to pick. Ritchie should be the overwhelming favourite, but Tszyu keeps finding a way to improve and win fights.
If Tszyu wins it will be great for Aussie boxing, so I’m going to say Tszyu in a razor-thin points decision.
Michael Zerafa, former Commonwealth titleholder:
Ritchie W10 Tszyu: I generally think Ritchie will be too aggressive and experienced in this fight.
I think it will be a game of tag and a competitive fight early. But in the later rounds, I’m backing Dwight to come home with the win, the hype on Tim is ridiculous.
Marcos Amado, trainer:
Ritchie W10 Tszyu: I think that the Australian public are the real winners here.
We have two rising stars who are not afraid to have a domestic showdown, to see who goes onto the world stage.
Tszyu is clever and he’s a well-schooled fighter, but I think Dwight will edge it narrowly on points. I think Dwight’s experience and hunger will make the difference.
Nedal ‘Skinny’ Hussein, former world title challenger:
Tszyu W10 Ritchie: I think Tim wins this fight. When you look at the styles, Tim is the better boxer.
I can see him taking control of the fight at range, winning with that sharp right-hand that he has.
Jayde Mitchell, world rated super middleweight:
Ritchie W10 Tszyu: This fight is a massive risk. It scares me to think that the pay-per-view model is based entirely on the Tszyu name.
Tszyu, along with Jeff Horn, are the faces of Australian boxing. It’s clear that No Limit Boxing and Tim have backed themselves and are giving the public what they want. As a fan of the sport, I love this.
I’m a fan of Tim and I think his team have done an awesome job. But in saying that, I think ‘Cowboy’ is one of the most technically beautiful boxers I’ve worked with.
Although he’s not super powerful, Dwight is tough as nails, not afraid to throw down and he can really mix it up. I also believe that Ritchie fights to the level of his opponents.
This is the biggest opportunity Dwight has been given, and this will be the best version of Ritchie. The real winner here is boxing – props to Matt Rose and Tim – for giving us the best show possible.
Will Tomlinson, former world champion/promoter – WILDFIGHTER:
Tszyu W10 Ritchie: I’m tipping Tim Tszyu to get it done on points. Over ten rounds, we’ll see Tim’s timing and accuracy to get him over the line in a competitive fight.
Even though Ritchie is a threat, I think Tim will be physically stronger, so if the fight ends up in close, he will get the better of him.
Tony Del Vecchio, trainer:
Tszyu W10 Ritchie: I see Tim Tszyu winning this one on points. Dwight is too tough to be knocked out, but I think Tim is just too surgical with his punches.
Tony Tolj, manager/promoter/matchmaker:
Tszyu W10 Ritchie: In Tim Tszyu and Dwight Ritchie, we have a great domestic local fight. It will be competitive and I believe Tim will get the win by a close points decision.
Joel Camilleri, former opponent of Tszyu and Ritchie:
Tszyu W10 Ritchie: In my predictions, I have said it’s a very even fight. I believe Tim is growing with every fight and is a very smart and composed fighter.
For Dwight to win, he’ll have to try and get Tim caught up into his fight and stay on him the whole fight, which can be very difficult because Tim is very good at taking things away from a fighter.
Tim’s precise punches and great timing should be too much for Dwight, even though I think Dwight will have his moments and win a couple rounds until Tim finds his rhythm.
Luke Jackson, former world title challenger:
Tszyu W10 Ritchie: This is a great fight, two of the best in Australia facing each other. Ritchie is definitely a step up for Tszyu, but I feel Tszyu will be well prepared and take a points decision.
Reagan Dessaix, Australian light heavyweight champion:
Tszyu UD10 Ritchie: This is a great domestic match-up.
I can see Tszyu being faster to the punch and showing his class right throughout the fight, when it gets into the later rounds especially.
Taking nothing away from Dwight, I think he will make this one hell of a tough and close fight.
Brendan Bourke, advisor/manager:
Tszyu W10 Ritchie: Firstly, credit to Tszyu’s promoter Matt Rose for matching him hard.
Secondly, I think Ritchie will look like he’s won the fight. However, with a Sydney crowd cheering Tszyu on, he’ll grab a close points victory.
Paul Keegan, promoter – DDP Sports:
Ritchie W10 Tszyu: I believe these are the kind of fights that the Australian public are screaming for. This really is a 50/50 domestic scrap.
Tim has fought on one of our shows, so I know how talented he is, as I have seen him first-hand.
There will be a lot of pressure on Tim as he is being classed as the A-side, but I can see Dwight winning this, not because he is much better than Tim, but because he doesn’t have the show built around him.
Sam Labruna, trainer/promoter – SLB Fight Night:
Ritchie W10 Tszyu: I love these fights and I can’t get enough of them.
This is very evenly matched and I have come up against them both as a trainer, and for that reason I think Dwight Ritchie will win.
I totally understand that Tim is going in the right direction, but the ‘Cowboy’ will bring a frantic pace and take Tim to deep waters and unsettle him.
In saying all that – Dwight needs to do exactly that – if he lets Tim dictate pace and distance then it’s game over. But I won’t sit on the fence, I’m going for Dwight for the win.
Anthony Redward, trainer:
Tszyu UD10 Ritchie: This is a great fight and I think Ritchie will test Tszyu for the first four rounds.
We’ve seen that Tim adjusts well, as he will again, and controls Ritchie for the remaining six rounds to win a decision.
Lynden Hosking, former Olympian/promoter – Hosking Promotions
Tszyu W10 Ritchie: I think Ritchie will give Tim all sorts of trouble early, and may take quite a few rounds away from him.
But when Tim starts to find his rhythm, range and realises that Dwight can’t hurt him, I think he will take control of the fight and close strongly. This is a great fight for Australian boxing.
Adam Wilcock, promoter/manager – Fightcard Promotions
Ritchie W10 Tszyu: There’s a reason not many outside of boxing circles have heard of Dwight.
It’s because not many inside boxing circles will fight him. Look for what many consider will be an ‘upset’ here.
George Reno, trainer:
Tszyu W10 Ritchie: This is a tough fight for both and hard to decide.
I think Tim has the pedigree, and he should rise to the next level. I still think Ritchie will have his moments, but Tszyu goes on to win a decision.
Gareth Williams, trainer:
Tszyu W10 Ritchie: This is a real fight and I think Dwight Ritchie is a big chance against Tim Tszyu.
This is a fight where we’ll see experience facing potential. I’m a big fan of both boxers and Dwight is a great old school style boxer, who knows all the pro tricks.
Since he turned professional he has always boxed like a veteran, and even now, he’s still only 27 years old. I think he’s seeing this fight as his step to the next level.
I’ve watched Tim since he was a kid at amateur tournaments, and he has always had the same look as Kostya and that same style about him.
It’s clear that he’s developing well as a professional and still needs to make adjustments, but definitely has the ability, dedication and bloodline to make his own name.
For me, I’ll swing slightly towards Tim over the distance, due to more constant activity over the last three years.
Benny Harrington, trainer:
Tszyu UD10 Ritchie: I see this as a 60/40 fight in Tim Tszyu’s favour.
We know that it’s a step in the right direction for Tim. I wish them both good health after the fight.
Photo: Louie Abigail/Photography by Rockfingrz