Tszyu the man: Kostya tips Tim to build his own legacy

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Kostya Tszyu believes his son has shed any baggage that comes with following in his footsteps, labelling Tim “the man” before a fight that could set up his own legacy.

Tszyu will make his first WBO super-welterweight interim world title defence against Carlos Ocampo at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre next Sunday. If successful, Tszyu will get a guaranteed shot at undisputed champion Jermell Charlo, a clash that has been mandated to take place before September 30.

Former world champion Kostya Tszyu and son Tim Tszyu in Sydney in 2019.Credit: Getty

The 28-year-old Australian has confirmed he will face Mexican slugger Ocampo despite requiring surgery and 26 stitches on his right forearm after being attacked by a dog weeks before the fight.

Kostya beat all five Mexicans he faced during his hall-of-fame career, in which he became the undisputed champion in the three-belt era. Tim could get the chance to claim four major belts from Charlo – the WBO, WBC, IBF and WBA – a feat only achieved nine times.

Regardless, Kostya said Tim’s achievements have silenced critics who claimed he was riding on his coattails.

“He’s the man,” Kostya said from Russia. “He has proven to the world, to all the people that never believed in him, that believed it was only his name. I’m proud of it.”

Kostya knocked out Julio Cesar Chavez, widely considered Mexico’s greatest pugilist, in the sixth round of their title fight in 2000. However, he considers his TKO win over Miguel Angel Gonzalez a year earlier as his finest moment.

“I think against Gonzalez, that was my best performance,” Kostya said. “Step by step, destroyed the legend. Didn’t give him one chance. I would say to myself, that is 10 from 10.”

He backed Tim to extend the Tszyu family’s record against Mexicans to 6-0.

“I’m expecting the brawler, who is coming to win the fight,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy.

“I did tell Tim that the fight will be hard. Don’t underestimate him, you have to be 100 per cent ready for the fight, otherwise he can expect some surprises.

Tim Tszyu beat Tony Harrison by a knockout in March.Credit: Brook Mitchell

“Preparation was good. [The dog bite] more motivated him to be 100 per cent. Sometimes these kind of injuries can help with more motivation to have a better fight.

“Of course [Ocampo] will [target the injury], but Tim will never give him the chance for this. I haven’t seen him physically what’s happened, but at the same time Tim said everything is all right and I believe him. He’s ready.

Kostya lauded Tim after he knocked out American veteran Tony Harrison in the ninth round in March.

“I’m very pleased to see the way he fought, methodically, step by step, just like I did against Gonzalez,” Kostya said. “I think he is not [just] getting better, he is getting smarter every time.”

Asked about Tim’s prospects against Charlo, Kostya said: “Let’s have that [Ocampo] fight first and see how we go. It is undisputed, but at the same time not one by one. I did my way by winning one title, then another, then another one. Over here, it’s only one opponent.”

Kostya’s youngest son, Nikita, has also shown promise in the ring, winning all six of his professional fights. However, the “Thunder from Down Under” said time would tell how good he becomes.

“It’s too early to say anything,” Kostya said. “He is improving. He’s learning to be more patient in the fight, not rush. Not getting too excited, he’s learning. I am very pleased.”

Meanwhile, Ocampo says as a “gentleman” he won’t target Tim’s injured arm in their WBO title showdown next week.

But the Mexican fighter warned he still plans to end Tszyu’s unbeaten run and crush the Australian’s plans to take on Charlo this year in America.

“I wish him a speedy recovery because I hope it’s not an excuse on Sunday, June 18,” Ocampo said.

“I won’t aim for your arm because I’m a gentleman. But remember, protect yourself at all times. I took the fight against Tim Tszyu because he represents an important challenge in my career.”

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