Pre-fight press conferences are supposed to be platforms for boxers to double-down on all the slander they've dished out to their opponent. On Monday, the opposite happened.
Two weeks ago, unbeaten Victorian Dwight Ritchie alleged his next opponent, Tim Tszyu, was the "home brand version" of his father – a "cheaper" knock-off of Kostya, the multiple world champion and legend of the Australian fight game.
Dwight Ritchie has put a different spin on his claim that Tim Tszyu is a “home brand version” of his father.Credit:James Brickwood
It sounded and read like typical boxing smack talk. But asked about those comments at the official media call on Monday in Sydney, with Tszyu sitting a couple of metres to his right, Ritchie had a very different spin.
"I said it once, and youse just ran with it," Ritchie said. "Being second to Kostya, it's not really an insult though, is it? One of the greatest 140-pounders ever. It is what it is."
A smirking Tszyu believed the retraction was reality belatedly setting in for the Shepparton product. He saw a man backpedalling so fast he could have won the Tour de France in reverse.
"I've said it before – when people see the camera for the first time in their life, they start acting a bit different and nervous," he said.
"So that's exactly what happened. He said something that he shouldn't have and he regrets it. And now he's trying to say a different thing. That's all it is."
I don't pay attention to anything Jeff Horn says. He doesn't bother me.
Ritchie (19-1, 2 KOs) looms as the toughest challenge of Tszyu's young career so far. But the 24-year-old described Wednesday night's showdown ICC Sydney Theatre for the WBO Global and IBF Pan Pacific super welterweight belts as a "little stepping stone" on his road to greatness.
Tszyu (13-0, 10 KOs) has already called out Jeff Horn, with a blockbuster bout between them inevitable if he prevails against Ritchie. Horn will have a decent view – he will be calling the fight for the Main Event channel, where Tszyu will headline his second consecutive card this year.
"He's got the best seat in the house. Good on him," Tszyu said. "I don't pay attention to anything Jeff Horn says. He doesn't bother me."
Despite talking openly about his intentions with Horn, Tszyu insisted he was not selling Ritchie short. "I know what's in front of me and the possibilities and opportunities come ahead after this," he said. "I visualise my life, I visualise my future plans … but I haven't looked past him."
Ritchie said Tszyu was having a bob each-way. "He's looking past me. You can't be yes or no," he said. "But it's also to be expected. They've got a lot riding on this kid. They've got a plan for him. But they've made a mistake by looking past me."
Ritchie actually has a higher ranking than Tszyu but said he was not irked by the extra media attention his opponent has enjoyed, and would get no extra satisfaction from knocking him down a peg.
"I understand what comes with his name and I think it's great that it brings all that attention to Australian boxing," he said.
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