THE dust is continuing to settle on the biggest domestic card of the year.
As the Australian boxing industry digests a career-best display from Tim Tszyu against Jeff Horn, here are the five biggest takeaways from a memorable night at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
1. The torch is officially passed
A litany of potential narratives were expected to play out in Townsville on Wednesday night.
One of the storylines offered from the team of Horn (now 20-3-1, 13 KOs) was the unbeaten record that the former welterweight titleholder held in stadium fights. Remarkably, the 32-year-old had headlined three separate times in Queensland-based stadiums in as many years.
Despite his apparent experience at this level — and impressive physical condition — there was no stylistic answer to the masterful tactical display put together by Tszyu (16-0, 12 KOs) over eight one-sided rounds.
It was dominant, and equally emphatic, signalling an end to Horn’s admirable reign as Australia’s leading prizefighter, with Tszyu dethroning the likeable A-side on home soil.
For everything that Horn has achieved in his decorated career, the former schoolteacher has secured a legacy as a fine ambassador for Australian boxing, not to mention a legitimate world title. Wherever he decides to take his career next, his place in our nation’s rich sporting folklore is already secured.
The Tim Tszyu era now begins, with the boxing world watching on.
2. Prodigious talent completes transition from prospect to contender
When a fresh-faced Tszyu was unveiled to television audiences last year, shortly after penning a lucrative long-term deal with Matt Rose and his No Limit Boxing firm, many eyebrows were raised.
How could a prospect with limited experience in the paid ranks, headline a pay-per-view card less than three years removed from his professional debut? The plan was ambitious, but has proven to be an overwhelming success.
In the space of 16 months, the 25-year-old has become a legitimised Australian sporting star and a competitor at world level.
Having secured the national crown, along with a slew of regional belts following wins over the best operators in his division, there is now no disputing the accomplishments of Tszyu, who takes a famous fighting name into a second generation.
3. Liam Wilson continues super featherweight ascension
Since folding hard-nosed veteran Jesus Cuadro in February, finding willing opponents to face Wilson has become an increasingly difficult task.
Despite the break ensued by the boxing lockdown, the 24-year-old continued his impressive rise, making relatively short work of capable former Olympian Jackson Woods, who provided a brave albeit short challenge.
True to form, it was high-octane and must-see TV, which is one of many reasons why Wilson (7-0, 5 KOs) is the most impressive Queenslander not named Jeff Horn. As domestic competition continues to thin, the unbeaten prospect has punched his ticket to super featherweight relevance.
As travel restrictions appear to be a concurrent chronicle, at least for the immediate future, Wilson could generate enough interest and financial backing to lure the likes of Kye MacKenzie, Billel Dib or Bruno Tarimo.
4. Issac Hardman and the middleweight division
If you weren’t a believer in the one-punch power of Issac Hardman — take one look at his frightening display against unlucky Welshman Jamie Weetch.
For all his bravado, Hardman (7-0, 6 KOs) is a developing a reputation as a legitimate puncher, at least at domestic level. Although undersized, Weetch (12-4, 5 KOs) was expected to provide the former mixed martial artist with rounds.
While we may need to wait a little longer to see Hardman tested against domestic opposition, potential opponents such as regional titleholder Emmanuel Carlos, Mark Lucas or even local rival Joel Camilleri, will watch on with keen interest.
The ceiling of Hardman has yet to be determined, but for as long as he competes on televised cards, he will be essential viewing. To those not fully acquainted with Hardman’s existing highlight-reel, previous wins over Lucas Miller, Matt Sheehan and Pouono Lopeti are well worth finding.
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Last night we got the job done in devastating fashion 💥 a lot of people said he’d be to much and his experience would get him across the line, I was biting off more then I could chew. “Pressure Makes Diamonds” and i always rise to the occasion. What an amazing experience in front of 15000 people and I’m so glad I got to share it with my coach @nitrostuds we put so much work into this camp and you all only got to see 2 mins of work but we worked our asses off for the last 10 weeks and it paid off. Also a massive thank you to uncle Pangy @adrian_pang for being here with me, it always feels right having you in my corner we have done it 9 times together and conquered Aus MMA together so it’s only fitting to share the boxing ring with you as well. Thank you to all my incredible sponsors @rodemeats @frans_hydroponics Paul Cross at Rip it up flooring & Wayne Webber from Webcon you guys all have shown so much support and it’s made our camp go so much more smoothly. Blair and I appreciate you all 🙌🏼 thank you to everyone that bought a supporter T and a ticket to the cinema back home in Chermside. The support that comes out of @nitrobox07 is amazing and I love you all 🙌🏼
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5. The immediate future for Tszyu
Given the enormity of both the platform and performance — interest is understandably at an all-time high.
A plethora of international suitors are beginning to see Tszyu’s name in lights, most notably international figures such as Top Rank, Matchroom Boxing and Premier Boxing Champions.
Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing could make for several interesting match-ups, given his stake in the light middleweight division, including English quartet Anthony Fowler, Scott Fitzgerald, Ted Cheeseman and Sam Eggington. A pair of former titleholders in Kell Brook and Liam Smith could also be future high-profile scalps.
The majority of the world titles are held by fighters aligned with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions roster, with WBA titleholders Jeison Rosario and Erislandy Lara contractually committed. Meanwhile, WBC light middleweight champion Jermell Charlo also forms a key part of the impressive stable.
An existing relationship between Tszyu’s promoter Rose and the aforementioned Top Rank, will likely see an eventual stateside debut with the Las Vegas-based promotional firm, in conjunction with No Limit Boxing.
On the domestic front, a potential clash with former three-time world title challenger Dennis Hogan (28-3-1, 7 KOs) could be on the cards, should Tszyu’s representatives decide to compete on home soil before the end of this year.
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