This past weekend, undefeated rising star Tim Tszyu (21-0, 15 KO’s) rose from an early knockdown, before settling in and finding his groove, cruising to a unanimous decision victory in his U.S. debut, over U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha (22-3-1, 11 KO’s) Saturday night, live on SHOWTIME from The Armory in Minneapolis headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event.
The son of former undisputed 140-pound world champion and International Boxing Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, Tim Tszyu faced adversity early, as Gausha landed a perfect straight right hand, promptly sending Tszyu to the canvas in the opening round.
Prior to that picturesque punch, Gausha landed a series of piercing jabs; penetrating Tszyu’s defense frequently and with ease.
Tszyu bounced back to his feet from the knockdown, with the only lingering effects – a minor cut under his left eye for the remainder of the round.
The rest of the fight was dominated by Tszyu, who used his physicality, applying constant pressure, enabling his prowess to overwhelm Gausha. The American did not do himself any favors, purposely retreating back towards the ropes, fighting out of the high-guard defensive position, seemingly content to lay against the ropes and mount his strategy from that location and field of battle.
“It was all so quick,” said Tszyu of the knockdown. “It was good that I faced adversity for the first time and I was able to come back. All respect to my opponent, Terrell Gausha. He’s a hell of a warrior and he’s a true gentleman. It was a simple flash knockdown. It was perfect timing. He’s a former Olympian. He’s got great credentials. That’s a great lesson for myself. I got back up and I dug deep.”
Gausha had success with that same straight right hand throughout the fight, but Tszyu’s continuous pressure slowly wore Gausha down, hurting him with body shots in round four. Tszyu followed that up in round five, by hurting Gausha with an overhand right that forced Gausha to look to hold throughout the rest of the round.
“I felt that I had him in trouble after the knockdown,” said Gausha. “I tried to jump on him but he’s a tough fighter. I take my hat off to him. He came prepared. I was ready for 12 hard rounds too. I think I got a little too excited and I tried to jump on him. But he was in shape so he recovered pretty good. He just pressed the action. That’s what he does. I knew he was going to come like that, and we trained hard for that.”
“I hope we gave the fans a great show,” said Gausha. “I trained hard. I poured my heart out. I’m happy with it. I hate losing but I went out like a champion.”
The Rockdale, Australia native was effective with his body attack and according to CompuBox, landing 93 body shots compared to 29 from Gausha. Tszyu held the edge in power punches, landing 207 power punches compared to Gausha’s 106, and was slightly more accurate, landing at a slightly higher clip of 32%, while Gausha landed 28% of his overall punches.
“I was just enjoying myself,” said Tszyu. “I felt in control the whole time. I kept the pressure on. I wasn’t going to back down. He kept landing shots but I said, ‘I’m going to keep coming forward and keep fighting.’ I kept my composure but I just kept saying to myself that this is a new round. I have to dig deep and I have to catch up here. I felt like I did that. I put the pressure on. I didn’t take one step backwards. I kept going on.”
It was apparent from the beginning, Tszyu’s power would pose a problem; he looks like a light heavyweight condensed and fitted into a junior middleweight frame. Possessing a methodical, yet coercing, bruiser style, that well suits his physical dimensions and particular skill set, it’ll be interesting to see how he fares against the upper-echelon fighters of the junior middleweight division.
Next up for Gausha:
Suffering defeat, Gausha takes a step back, plunging into the crowded pool of talented junior middleweights, in what is arguably boxing’s deepest division. Unless he can rattle off a series of victories against top tier contenders, his window for championship opportunities may effectively be closed.
Next up for Tszyu:
After a victorious debut on the U.S. stage, Tszyu has his eyes on the winner of the upcoming undisputed super welterweight championship rematch between Jermell Charlo (34-1-1) and Brian Castaño (17-0-2) taking place May 14 on SHOWTIME.
“I’ll definitely be there for Charlo vs. Castaño,” said Tszyu. “I’ll definitely be watching. I’m coming for the two boys. Whoever wants it, come get it.”
Given this recent performance and analyzing the action that unfolded over the weekend, there’s much to digest and assess for Tszyu progressing forward.
A fair question is if he is presently equipped to hang with the two recognized champions of the division. Albeit triumphant, there were vulnerabilities exposed. Tszyu displayed slow and awkward lateral movement, and questionable defense with the lack of head movement. Greater quality fighters tend to expose more deficiencies.
A legitimate question to pose is Tszyu equipped to handle the other challengers of the division? The other challengers, consisting of a mixture of top tier contenders and former world champions, once again vying for that top position in the division.
Former world champions such as Tony Harrison (28-3-1, 21 KO’s), Jarred Hurd (24-2, 16 KO’s), former Super WBA junior middleweight champion and current Regular WBA junior middleweight champion, Erislandy Lara (28-3-3, 16 KO’s). Contenders Erickson Lubin (24-1, 17 KO’s) and Sebastian Fonfara (18-0-1, 12 KO’s) reside as serious factors in the division as well.
Some of these aforementioned names, Harrison in particular, may already have eyes locked in on Tszyu.
Current welterweight world champions Errol Spence (27-0, 21 KO’s) (WBC, IBF) and Terence Crawford (38-0, 29 KO’s) (WBO) may be venturing towards the junior middleweight division in the near future and could potentially be options down the line.
“There’s plenty of big fights to be made and it’s quite exciting,” says Tszyu, who heading into the bout against Gausha, was already ranked No. 1 by the WBO and No. 3 by the IBF and WBC at 154 pounds.
“I’m at a good age as well, 27 years old, I still haven’t reached my peak. There’s so much to learn and there’s so much to know that it’s a never-ending story. This is the new chapter and it begins now.”