On Wednesday night, two of Australia’s biggest boxing stars clash in one of the most anticipated Australian sporting contests of the year.
Jeff Horn, the former World Boxing Organisation welterweight title holder will battle the Australian super welterweight champion Tim Tszyu over ten rounds in Toowoomba for the title of Australia’s biggest pay per view star.
In July 2017, Jeff Horn did something that other Australian welterweight legends such as George Barnes, Jack Carroll and Hector Thompson were unable to do, by dethroning Manny Pacquiao and becoming the first Australian boxer to win a portion of the welterweight world title.
At that time, the then 22-year-old Tim Tszyu, son of former undisputed super lightweight champion Kostya, was still a preliminary boxer, not yet progressing to even ten round bouts or headlining non-televised cards.
Fast track three years and Tszyu and Horn are set to face-off that sees Tszyu a nearly 3-1 favourite. Tszyu has defeated many Australian boxers at the welterweight and junior middleweight limits.
Last year he scored points wins over Joel Camilleri and Dwight Ritchie before a fourth-round stoppage win over Jack Brubaker closed out his 2020 campaign. All three fights headlined pay-per-view cards on the Main Event channel.
Horn’s reign at the top was short-lived, losing his title in the second defence to the brilliant American three-weight champion Terence Crawford.
His first-round demolition of Anthony Mundine did little to prepare him for the hungry middleweight Michael Zerafa, who knocked Horn out last August in nine.
Zerafa nearly repeated the feat in December but was sensationally dropped twice in a ninth round by Horn that he had thoroughly dominated. Horn took the decision, setting up this domestic blockbuster.
While Tszyu’s wins last year were over worthy opponent’s, they lacked Horn’s international experience. 20 rounds with Manny Pacquiao and Terence Crawford and three bouts at the 2012 London Olympics give Horn a gigantic advantage.
This experience, combined with Horn’s hand and foot speed and unorthodox timing, could be a nightmare for Tszyu early in the fight. Tszyu has previously shown susceptibility to strong opponents who press forward in his amateur days, losing multiple bouts with 2016 Olympian Daniel Lewis.
Tszyu’s best chances will come in the second half of the contest. He has inherited his father’s patience, and that will be necessary against Horn’s often reckless advances.
The super welterweight limit should see Horn in better condition than he was one division up against Zerafa, and Horn’s power will be more evident against the smaller Tszyu.
However, Horn’s condition will still be suspect, and it will be vital for him to get on top early. If he lets Tszyu settle into a rhythm against him like Zerafa did in Bendigo, or like Crawford did in Las Vegas, his night could end in a similar fashion.
The early rounds of this contest will be key. If Tszyu can control the pace and back the Queenslander up, he could dominate from start to finish. If Horn can throw off Tszyu’s timing with his herky-jerky movements from the opening bell, he could blitz his inexperienced foe.
Based on their recent bouts, the younger Tszyu should be favoured if he gets through the first half unscathed.
The bout promises to deliver fireworks.