ON the eve of his pay-per-view debut in May, Tim Tszyu was an unproven prospect carrying the weight of expectation.
Just two fights later, the prodigiously talented 24-year-old has truly arrived, graduating as a bonafide star at Sydney’s ICC Theatre on Wednesday night.
Tasked with the challenge of unseating the highly favoured Dwight Ritchie, Tszyu pitched a career-best performance, dominating the brave Victorian over ten one-sided rounds.
Tszyu (now 14-0, 10 KOs) picked up a slew of regional titles with a display that few saw coming, losing just three rounds on the judge’s cards, against a fighter many expected to provided a sterner challenge.
With the dust now settling on the biggest night of his career, Tszyu’s manager Glen Jennings believes the fight played out exactly as they had scripted.
“It was a very dominant display for Tim,” Jennings told Aus-Boxing.
“Tim is very good at judging his distance and timing. By the second and third, he’d done exactly that. I think the gameplan Igor (Gouloubev) and the team put in place worked to perfection.
“Dwight is so tough and busy, we knew Tim had to be on song. There was a lot of pushing and fighting on the inside.
“As long as Tim got his distance right, he was fine. We knew what we were doing and it all fell into place.”
The older and significantly more experienced Ritchie (now 19-2, 2 KOs) won many new admirers with his courageous display, fighting on despite a nasty gash under his left eyebrow.
As Jennings revealed, it was the way that Tszyu negated Ritchie’s strengths that made the win all the more impressive.
“Dwight is very good at what he does, especially with his swarming style,” he explained.
“It was interesting for me to see all the engagement on the inside, for quite some time too. It was a testament to just how much both of them wanted it, they went at it all night.
“For me, it was more interesting because of Tim’s jab. As soon as he stepped back, that was a totally different game, Dwight had no answer for the jab, as well as Tim’s right hand.
“A lot of people said Dwight was going to win and win comfortably, a lot of pundits, they all believed Dwight would win.
“Dwight was confident with the way he spoke, saying Tim wasn’t at his level. He’s right because Tim is above his level and we plan to keep stepping up.”
While many saw Tszyu’s fast start as eye-catching, the unbeaten Sydney resident almost put an exclamation point on his display, appearing to buzz Ritchie several times in the fifth round.
And while a stoppage victory would have been desirable, ten rounds against a quality operator was exactly what their fighter needed according to Jennings.
“We did sense a stoppage, but we didn’t want to get carried away,” he added.
“Even though Tim was landing a lot of really good shots – we were happy to do the rounds – Tim’s fitness was spot on, as was the case with Dwight.
“There was a sense in the fifth round where it (the stoppage) could’ve came. He rattled him a few times, if there was a big follow-up, it could’ve came. Dwight is a good survivor and got his composure back.
“I thought it was a great fight. It was Tim’s best performance to date. Mainly because he played the gameplan to perfection.”
The fight, which played out in front of an enthusiastic crowd in the heart of Sydney, was the second official pairing between Tszyu and his promoter, Matt Rose of No Limit Boxing.
Jennings believes the partnership has been well worth the wait, after long negotiations with several promoters, both internationally and on home soil.
“Matt is a genuine good guy, he’s a hard worker and prepared to invest,” he said.
“He knows that Tim has the potential to go all the way, just look at the quality of his show. The place was full and the atmosphere was sensational.
“The card was terrific, it was very well balanced. The consensus was that it was a cracker of a night. We have a great relationship, we’re very close and we know what pathway we’re going to take.”
Photo: Louie Abigail/Photography by Rockfingrz