TIM Tszyu has capped off a stellar year after being crowned as the Fighter of the Year at the Aus-Boxing Awards in Sydney.
The 25-year-old maintained his perfect record in a memorable 2019 campaign, scoring four wins from as many outings, which will be remembered for his swift transition from prospect to Australia’s leading light middleweight.
Tszyu (15-0, 11 KOs) kicked off his year by making quick work of former Commonwealth welterweight titleholder Denton Vassell in February.
However, it was the performances that followed which highlighted the rapid improvement and potential star power, with dominant displays against Australian champion Joel Camilleri, the world rated Dwight Ritchie and Jack Brubaker.
Now rated by two of the four sanctioning bodies, talk now circles around a possible world title opportunity in 2020, with iconic American promoter Bob Arum flirting with the idea of a Top Rank fighter visiting our shores.
2018: Andrew Moloney
2017: Jeff Horn
2016: Jeff Horn
2015: Jeff Horn
2014: Lucas Browne
Fight of the Year: Jack Brubaker vs. Ty Telford
Round of the Year: Jack Brubaker vs. Ty Telford (Round 9)
From the moment the final bell tolled between Jack Brubaker and Ty Telford, Fight of the Year honours were almost an immediate certainty.
Faced with the frustration of losing a highly anticipated clash with former Commonwealth title challenger Cameron Hammond, Brubaker, 28, was forced to face an upset-minded Ty Telford with just a week to prepare.
What followed was an unforgettable display of brutality, courage and sheer aggression, as the 22-year-old Telford surprised a televised audience and a packed house at The Star with a career-best effort.
The penultimate round of their fast-paced clash was a stand-out for Round of the Year, given the pace and shots landed by both fighters, who verbally committed to a mouth-watering rematch next year.
Prospect of the Year: Mateo Tapia
Mateo Tapia could consider himself unlucky to have secured just the single belt after an incredible year that ended with the national title around his waist.
The 21-year-old performed with the class and polish of a seasoned veteran in 2019, scoring wins over the previously unbeaten Adam Copland, a rugged Gaganpreet Sharma in Dubai and lastly Renold Quinlan in August.
In his third year as a professional, Tapia (11-0, 6 KOs) made a conscious effort to fight the best available opponents, and surprised many with his dexterity against quality opposition.
His most recent effort against the 30-year-old Quinlan, who has faced the likes of Daniel Geale and Chris Eubank, has shown the potential ceiling of a fighter that has yet to reach his physical prime.
Knockout of the Year: Andrew Moloney (vs. Miguel Gonzalez)
Andrew Moloney left no stone unturned in his pursuit of an elusive world title.
The 28-year-old would go on to finish his year with an interim version of the WBA super flyweight championship, but it was his accomplishments in the months prior that have earned him further accolades.
Moloney (now 21-0, 14 KOs) travelled to the hostile territory of San Francisco de Mostazal in Chile with a decision loss a near certainty if the judges were given the liberty.
However, the Melbourne-born pocket dynamo left nothing to chance, landing more than 20 consecutive left hooks to leave his more experienced counterpart stretched onto the canvas.
Event of the Year: No Limit Boxing (Tszyu vs. Ritchie)
Never has there been a more successful promotional year than the one experienced by Matt Rose and his promotional firm, No Limit Boxing.
The Sydney-based events company put together four events in 2019, with each event equally equipped to have secured Event of the Year honours. However, his maiden promotion at the First State Theatre within ICC Sydney proving to be his best.
On that night, Tim Tszyu validated his credentials as a threat at world level after outpointing the heavily favoured Dwight Ritchie over ten heats for a pair of regional titles.
Underneath the headline attraction, Rose assembled an impressive line-up of competitive and evenly matched fights, including unbeaten Kazakh opposition for Steve Gago and Rocky Jerkic, as well as a hard-to-pick clash between Mateo Tapia and Renold Quinlan.
If the events put together in 2019 are a sign of things to come, Rose and No Limit Boxing are on the verge of reaching unchartered waters for Australian boxing.
Performance of the Year: Michael Zerafa vs. Jeff Horn
Upset of the Year: Michael Zerafa vs. Jeff Horn
Michael Zerafa told anybody who would listen that his August clash with Jeff Horn would be problematic for all parties involved.
After weeks of talk and a highly anticipated build-up in Bendigo, the former Commonwealth titleholder shocked Australia and the wider sporting public with the best individual performance of the year over nine rounds.
With the exception of one fleeting moment in the second round, Zerafa (27-3, 16 KOs) put together a dominant display, and the best accumulative effort his career to comprehensively beat Horn, a former world champion two divisions below at welterweight.
After years of grinding and a criminally under-appreciated resume at light middleweight, the Craigieburn-based Zerafa is finally receiving his plaudits for one night’s work in regional Victoria.
Photo: Marty Camilleri