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Being an underdog can be helpful for Australian fighters. The fighter narrative is one that’s been embraced since we sent boxers abroad to carry the Southern Cross to the opposing corner.
But the homecoming: It’s less easy. When you think about the greatest moments in Australian boxing history, it’s amazing how few of them took place on home soil.
Kostya Tszyu, Tim’s father and our greatest fighter of all time, once fought in Australia between 1998 and 2005, whereby his home fans couldn’t see him in action without having traveled halfway across the world to Las Vegas or Manchester where the end against Ricky would come to Hatton.
George Kambosos, our most celebrated champion in recent years, exemplified the fighting stance. But if. He came home with titles in hand… fewer.
Touring from 2017 to 2022, he made a name for himself around the world by highlighting former champion Lee Selby at Wembley Arena on the undercard of Oleksandr Uysk’s heavyweight debut, silencing the most partisan home fans in the process.
He then upped the ante and took all the belts off Teofimo Lopez under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden in late 2021, a win no one predicted.
You could throw in players like Michael Katzidis, silence London fans with a win over West Ham fan Kevin Mitchell on the pitch at old Upton Park and go into the backyards of legends like Juan Manuel Marquez, Joel Casamayor and Ricky Burns .
Or Sakio Bika, who takes on Andre Ward, Anthony Dirrell, Adonis Stevenson, Lucian Bute and Joe Calazghe on her terms.
Even Lucas Browne at his peak had the unusual fighting trajectory of winning a version of the world title on the street in Chechnya and fighting in front of a packed O2 Arena in London, with a home fight in between at a social club at Punchbowl. That’s how it’s been for Australian boxers in recent years.
Not Tim Tszyu. Through a combination of his talent and, yes, his name, the trajectory of his career was built largely on relatively soft home fights, domestic duels with Jeff Horn and Dennis Hogan, and then a good win on the road.
His last fight on these shores against Japanese fighter Takeshi Inoue earned him a title, but come on: Takeshi isn’t even the best fighter named Inoue and he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page.
That’s why this fight is important. Australian fight fans had two chances to see Kambosos in action and on both occasions he failed to deliver and lost wide-ranging decisions.
We love a Battler, but when the shoe is on the other foot it’s fallen apart for the home champ. It’s a different mentality when you’re expected to put on a show for your own fans.
Kambosos faced a superstar in Devin Haney, but even then it wasn’t close. George changed his nickname from “Ferocious” to “The Emperor” and seemingly changed his direction. He was a much better underdog.
Tszyu is where Kambosos was in Melbourne last year, except he hasn’t won anything yet.
His away win over Terrell Gausha made the world sit up less than lean forward. Aussie form doesn’t matter much elsewhere in the world, which is why our boxers spend so much time on the streets.
It did, however, earn him a shot at Jermell Charlo and although the injury made sure of that, it could prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Tony Harrison, whom Tszyu meets in Sydney this weekend, is likely to be a good stepping stone between Gausha – placed outside the top ten globally – and Charlo, the clear number one.
Had Charlo been fit this fight probably would have been Las Vegas and the stage for another underdog fighting each other. That would suit the Aussie mentality.
Now it’s a fight where Tszyu is a clear favourite, ranked higher and has all the advantages of the other having to travel. The crown must pass this Sunday afternoon in the Qudos Bank Arena. If so, it will prove that Tim is fit to be a champion – and he finally will be.
https://www.theroar.com.au/2023/03/10/tim-tszyu-isnt-a-world-champion-but-he-needs-to-avoid-george-kambosos-mistake-of-thinking-that-this-fight-is-a-homecoming/ Tim Tszyu is not a world champion