Tszyu: I'm ready to take on the world
Tim Tszyu is ready to challenge Jeff Horn for the title of Australia's No.1 fighter saying: "There's only a handful of fights I want here now ... or it might be time to go overseas".
Undoubtedly the Next Big Thing of Australian boxing, Tszyu took his unbeaten run to 14 fights with a unanimous points decision win over gutsy Victorian Dwight Ritchie at Darling Harbour's International Convention Centre.
Apart from pushing him closer to a superfight with Queensland favourite Horn -- who famously took the WBO welterweight title title from Manny Pacquiao in 2017 -- the win was also a solid response to Ritchie's claims that the 24-year-old was simply a "home brand" version of his old man, Australian boxing legend Kostya Tszyu.
"That's proved I'm the best in Australia now," the super welterweight said afterwards. "I've cleared out my division here.
"There's only a handful of fights I want here now ... or it might be time to go overseas."
Headlining only his second pay-per-view fight on Main Event, the younger Tszyu won on all three judges' scorecards -- 98-93, 98-92,97-93 -- to continue his unbeaten streak in front of an eclectic crowd that included NSW Labor leader Anthony Albanese, boxing Hall of Famer Jeff Fenech, UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker, Queensland Origin great Justin Hodges and South Sydney stars Sam Burgess, Cody Walker, Damien Cook and Braidon Burns.
Coming into the bout, Tszyu's promoter Matt Rose was talking up the possibility of a Horn-Tszyu fight at Sydney's new Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta
Yet speaking with The Daily Telegraph from ringside, where he was working as part of the Main Event commentary team, Horn said his only concern moving forward was using his next fight, against Melbournian Michael Zerafa, to catapult back into a title fight with Japanese world middleweight champ Ryoto Murata.
Earlier this year, Horn gave up the chance to challenge Murata in Japan -- in the process sacrificing a fight purse worth US$2 million -- and instead stay at home in Queensland as wife Jo gave birth to the couple's second child, baby girl Charlotte.
Despite that decision, Horn now plans to use his next bout against Melbournian Michael Zerafa, which take place on August 31, to springboard back in a title bout later this year.
Asked about Tszyu's push for a fight with Horn, the former world champion said: "It's the same as last time he fought, Tim keeps calling me out.
"But he needs to get some more wins on the board.
"If he does that then, yeah, it might be a possibility.
"But right I'm fighting a top fighter (Zerafa) and then I'm looking at the big fights, the world title fights.
"And Tim Tszyu isn't in that category.
"If he can get himself higher up in the rankings, potentially get a world title shot of his own then I'd definitely be hunting him down.
But of course he wants me.
"I'm right in the mix with those guys at the top ... but Tim isn't in that category yet."
Asked about a Horn fight, Tszyu added: "He's got a big task ahead of him (with Zerafa). Once he finishes his task, we can talk."
After making Ritchie, aka the Fighting Cowboy, wait in the ring for some five minutes before he eventually walked out to a mash of one, two, three different songs, Tszyu then wasted little time attacking the more experienced rival from Shepperton, Victoria.
By the third round, Cowboy was cut over the left eye.
However, after a brief stoppage to check on the injury, referee Les Fear quickly ordered a continuation of proceedings.
And from there?
Well, as expected of a fighter with two KOs in his 24 fights -- and who enters the ring to Working Class Man -- Ritchie looked to wear his hyped rival down with a mix of grit and volume, with the seventh round arguably his best.
Tszyu, meanwhile, was power.
"He's number one in Australia for a reason," Tszyu said afterwards of his rival. "All respect to Dwight."