Feeling like a Roman gladiator, Nikita Tszyu is treating his looming showdown with Dylan Biggs like a “life-or-death” battle as he fights to preserve the famous family name.
Tszyu (7-0, 6KOs) and Biggs (10-0, 7KOs) will square off for the Australian super-welterweight title at the Newcastle Convention Centre on Wednesday night.
But the youngest pugilist among the most successful clan in Australian boxing history knows there’s much more at stake than a belt, however important that may also be to Tszyu.
Between his former unified world champion-father Kostya (18-0), reigning WBO super-welterweight strap holder Tim (23-0) and Nikita (7-0), the Tszyus are undefeated in 48 professional bouts in Australia.
“I feel like I have like a big responsibility on them to create a sense of entertainment for the public and to also (uphold) the family name,” the 25-year-old said on Friday.
“I love that I’ve got this kind of pressure on me because it’s keeping me sharp. It makes every single moment that I get into the ring like a life-or-death situation.
“Honestly, it feels like I’m a gladiator back in the Roman days where any mistake I make it would be basically death.
“I can’t make any mistakes or else I die. And that’s a beautiful kind of thing to have in the back of your head. You would essentially be dead if you were living 2000 years ago.”
Tszyu is so focused on beating Biggs he’s not bothered by the growing threat of a dressing-room stand-off over which fighter enters the ring last.
As reigning champion, Biggs is intent on that being him but No Limit Boxing promoter George Rose says it must be Tszyu as the headline act.
“Let him mentally exhaust himself,” Tszyu said of Biggs’ obsession to walk out last.
“The promoters are the ones that are putting in the big bucks. They’re the ones that are sponsoring the events, the televisions, whoever’s the big boss, they’re the ones in charge.”
Biggs also labelled a promotional video released last week of Tszyu eating raw steak alongside his dog before throwing a knife at a picture of his rival’s face posted to a wall as “embarrassing” and cringey.
Branded “The Butcher”, Tszyu couldn’t care less.
“I actually liked it,” he said.
“I thought it was a very good representation of what my mind is. There’s a lot of dark areas in my mind and that’s how I feel a lot of the time.
“I’m sitting in a little dark room, I’m always kind of thinking about these fights and kind of pondering about these moments in my career and how to improve business.
“There’s this tunnel vision of my opponents that I’m ready to go.
“I’m not going to get a voodoo doll and curse him with it or anything like that, but there’s obviously a hatred because this man is trying to take your future away from you.
“That’s the way I see it. Without doubt this is the biggest test, probably the toughest opponent, the biggest stakes.
“It’s the way of the warrior and we (the Tszyus) are modern-day warriors.”