By David Finger
For boxing fans Down Under, the verdict on undefeated super welterweight Tim Tszyu (13-0, 10 KOs) is still pending. But one thing is for certain: on Wednesday August 14th everyone should know if Tszyu is the real deal. Tszyu is one of the most talked about prospects to come out of Australia in years, but even his most ardent fans recognize that his linage has a lot to do with the buzz he has generated.
Nonetheless Tim Tszyu, the son of the former undisputed light-welterweight champion and Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, has looked all the part of a world beater up to this point in his career, and his competition has been steadily improving. And in front of his hometown Sydney fans Tszyu will take his first major test as he clashes with countryman Dwight Ritchie (19-1, 2 KOs) in a ten round fight for the WBO Global, IBF Australian, and WBA Oceania 154-pound titles. Ritchie, the #9 ranked IBF junior middleweight, is a fighter with the skills and slickness to upend the apple cart.
However, Wednesday’s PPV card isn’t just a chance to see if Tim Tszyu has what it takes to beat a top ten contender. Many boxing fans recognize this as one of the best boxing card to hit Australia in years.
“One of the biggest things we looked at was changing the perception of matchups and making sure fights were real fights.” Promoter Matt Rose said of the highly anticipated card during Monday’s televised press conference.
The seven fight card also features a highly regarded contender in evenly matched bout as well as two all-Australian fights that have fans predicting open warfare.
For Tszyu and Ritchie however, the bad blood between them seems to have simmered down as the fight draws near. Ritchie struck a nerve when he was quoted as saying the younger Tszyu was a “home brand version” of his father, a statement he prefaced during the press conference on Monday.
“Well I said it once and you just ran with it,” Ritchie said during the press conference, “being second to Kostya it’s not really an insult, is it? Being one of the greatest 140-pounders ever.”
Nonetheless Ritchie made it clear he felt that Tim Tszyu was looking past him and would pay the price for taking him lightly.
“I think they got their plan and they are already looking at what’s next,” Ritchie added. “But for me I only have what’s in front of me. He’s going to get the best Dwight.”
However Tszyu disagreed and promised fans that they would see the best Tim Tszyu on Wednesday night.
“It’s a big night,” Tszyu said. “I trained hard for this fight and you’re going see the best Tim come out Wednesday. I’m not looking past Dwight, I know what’s in front of me. I truly believe this is a little stepping stone for bigger things to come.”
Tim was also dismissive of Ritchie’s attempt to back down from the comment that he was a “home brand” version of his dad.
“What’s there to say?” Tszyu replied. “I’m going to show everything on Wednesday night. I plan on making a good fight.”
In the co-main event Australia’s Rocky Jerkic (17-1, 13 KOs) will take on the highly touted Kazakh contender Aidos Yerbossynuly (11-0, 8 KOs), the #6 ranked WBA super middleweight in the world.
The fight will be a ten round fight for the vacant WBA International Super Middleweight title. Although Yerbossynuly is relatively unknown on this side of the Atlantic his possesses an impressive amateur resume and has shown flashes of superstardom in his previous eleven fights. In particular his unanimous decision over Lukas Ndafoluma in his last fight, a win that netted the Kazakh the WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental Super Middleweight belt.
However, Jerkic is a dangerous and talented brawler in his own right, having only lost only one fight back in March of 2017 to undefeated prospect Anthony Buttigieg by way of split decision. But even with a solid resume of his own, there is a recognition that the Aussie has a tough assignment on Wednesday.
“The main thing for me was making quality fights,” Rocky Jerkic said when asked why he stepped up against such a dangerous opponent. “The main thing for me as a fighter is entertainment…to put on good shows. I’m not really trying to pad myself. I want to go out and test myself.”
Opening up the televised broadcast is a much anticipated welterweight fight between Jack Brubaker (15-2-2, 7 KOs) and undefeated Danny Kennedy (8-0-1, 1 KO) in an all-Australian affair. Brubaker was part of what was widely regarded as the best Australian brawl of the year back in May when he held undefeated Ty Telford to a draw in a ten round fight, and he is looking to capitalize on his momentum against the undefeated Kennedy.
“This is a massive fight,” Kennedy said, “I think you are going to see something special, I had an amazing training camp and I’ve seen so many flaws in Jack’s last fight. I think Ty softened him up a little bit.”
Brubaker was unfazed and promised a stoppage as well, but did hint that fans might see a more disciplined and polished fight on Wednesday.
“I’m an entertaining fighter,” Brubaker countered. “I love a good scrap, but you are going to see a different Jack Brubaker out there.”
In what may end up being the fight of the night, a pair of undefeated prospects square off in a ten round untelevised contest as Australia’s Steve “The Timorese Terror” Gago (11-0, 4 KOs) looks to derail another highly touted amateur standout from Kazakhstan in Nursultan Zhangabayev (7-0, 5 KOs). Despite only having seven professional fights the Kazakh has taken a very Matrix-like approach to professional boxing, having stopped 28-1 Ivan Matute in a fight for the WBA Intercontinental Welterweight title back in March of this year. Gago is the prohibitive underdog but his manager, Tony Tolj, remains supremely confident in his young fighter’s ability.
“We are under no illusions,” Tolj said in an email to Fightnews when asked what he thought of the fight. “This guy was a top amateur, he’s world top ten. But to quote Ric Flair, to be the man you got to beat the man.”
Also featured on the televised portion of the card is another intriguing crossroads fight featuring undefeated Cesar Mateo Tapia (10-0, 6 KOs), a 21-year old Mexican born boxer who now resides in New South Wales, as he takes on veteran Renold Quinlan (12-4, 8 KOs) in a super middleweight clash. Quinlan is coming into the fight having lost three of his last four fights against world class opposition (Chris Eubanks Jr., Damien Hooper, and Joshua Buatsi) and can ill-afford another setback against the Mexican-Australian. But having abandoned his foray into the light heavyweight division there was a buzz with those in attendance at the press conference that Quinlan looked a lot fitter then he had in some time.
“I’m feeling great. Had weeks of training back in my weight class, super middleweight” Quinlan said of his upcoming fight with Tapia. “I’m super fit and that’s when I’m dangerous. You’re going to see a different Renold Quinlan.”
“This is the biggest step up in my career,” Tapia admitted. “I’m just ready for whatever he has to bring. I’m going in there to fight him with intelligence, with more of a boxing game plan. Ren’s been at the pinnacle of the sport and that’s where I want to be.”
Also on the televised portion of the card is a female fight between undefeated Tayla Harris (4-0-1) as she takes on debuting Renee Gartner in a middleweight fight. In a fight for the vacant Australian 154-pound title Michael Pengue (4-1, 3 KOs) will take on Isaac Buckley (6-2-1, 2 KOs).
The No Limits Boxing event will take place at the ICC Exhibition Centre in Sydney, Australia with the event televised via PPV in Australia.