Kostya Tszyu was one of the most intense fighters of his time. He was skilled and filled with athletic talents, but the intensity with which he approached his work and the ferocity he brought inside the ring is what helped make him a Hall of Famer.
It’s hard for any fighter to match that.
But Tszyu’s son, Tim, is giving it a good go. The super welterweight contender will make his U.S. debut in Minneapolis on Saturday (9 p.m. ET, Showtime) against ex-U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha.
Tim Tszyu is 20-0 with 15 KOs and an excellent prospect, but being the son of a legendary champion like Kostya Tszyu brings high expectations.
He’s mostly fulfilled those, though it’s difficult to look good in comparison to a legend.
But Tim Tszyu is bigger than his father and has the kind of power that made his dad one of the most intimidating super lightweights of the late 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s.
Tim Tszyu has got KO victories already over Jeff Horn and Dennis Hogan and isn’t looking to dance his way to a win over Gausha.
Gausha hasn’t been knocked out as a pro, though he’s 1-2-1 in his last four. He’s lost decisions to Erislandy Lara and Erickson Lubin, and clearly there’s no shame in that, considering the quality of their games.
But he’s going to have to be on point on Saturday because Tszyu aims to make an impression fighting in the U.S. for the first time.
“I’m coming to fight and I’m coming to win,” Tszyu said at a Las Vegas workout for the media. “I’m not here to ‘tip-tap.’ If that means going for the knockout, I’ll go for it right away. I’m not here to out-jab someone and win on the scorecards. From the first second when the fight starts, my objective is to take him out. Every second of every round, I’m going to be in front of my opponent’s face.”
That’s the kind of approach that could help him build a following quickly, particularly because he’s in a division loaded with quality opposition.
He insists he’s not underestimating Gausha, despite Gausha’s recent slide.
“This is going to be an interesting fight,” he said. “I’m quite interested to see what he’s going to bring. Gausha has the tools to win. He’s got great skills and quick hands and a good variety of punches. He does the simple things very well. I like those types of styles. I’ve sparred guys like that in the U.S. and it’s a fun style to fight against.
“I don’t look particularly big or strong, but when I get in the ring, I give off that dominance that says, ‘This is my ring. This is what I do and you’re coming onto my stage.’ I present that dominance straight away and let everyone know.”
Tszyu’s trainer, Igor Goloubev, said Tszyu is a smart fighter who isn’t the type to let an opponent catch his breath.
He backed up Tszyu’s contention that he’ll be going for a finish from beginning to end.
“Tim is going to make adjustments, like he always does, based off what Gausha brings in the first round,” Goloubev said. “Tim is an absolute pressure fighter. He’s going to be right on top of Gausha from the start. There’s going to be no rest and nowhere for him to go. This is going to be fought on the inside.”
He doesn’t have to be the next Kostya Tszyu, because that’s an almost impossible standard to live up to for anyone. He just needs to do what he does consistently and when he moves up the ladder in competition.
His father won the undisputed super lightweight title in 2001 when he knocked out Zab Judah in the second round.
If Tim Tszyu continues to develop, the Tszyus may become the first father-son duo to both hold undisputed titles in professional boxing.
Jermell Charlo and Brian Castaño are going to fight for the undisputed super welterweight title on May 14. If Tszyu keeps up his winning ways, he could find himself in short order in a bout against the winner.
“I’m coming for everyone in the division,” he said. “I’m coming for the belts. You have to have confidence in yourself. I believe that I defeat either Charlo or Castaño. I wouldn’t be in the sport if I didn’t believe that. I’d take those guys to places they’ve never been and that’s all that matters to me.”