To most boxing fans, Jeff Horn is the guy who got a gift decision over Manny Pacquiao in 2017, and Tim Tszyu is Kostya’s son. Now, both of those things may be varying degrees of true but there’s a lot more to this fight than those reductive descriptors would have you believe. So let’s dig in and take a closer look at this all-Aussie superfight and see what we have coming our way on Wednesday night from Townsville.
The simple narrative here is that Tim Tszyu is an explosive but untested fighter while Jeff Horn is far more experienced yet entirely unspectacular. It’s hard to talk about Tszyu without mentioning his famous father, Kostya. The Russian-born Australian was a fan-favorite throughout the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Spectacular wins over Zab Judah, Diosbelys Hurtado and living legend Julio Caesar Chavez, punctuated the elder Tszyu’s hall of fame career.
With that pedigree hanging over his head, expectations for Tim Tszyu were always going to be sky-high. The good news is that so far, he’s more than lived up to them. An undefeated record (15-0,11 KO’s), and a robust 74% knockout ratio pair nicely with the impressive highlight reel Tszyu has put together in his short, four-year professional career. The obvious knock here is that he hasn’t had much to write home about in the way of competition. You won’t find many names on his resume that are known outside of Australia, and a few that might not even meet that criteria. The big question here is what will happen when he squares off against an opponent who has been in with the very best in the world.
What Jeff Horn may lack in explosiveness, he more than makes up for in experience. A resume dotted with names like Manny Pacquiao, Terrence Crawford, Anthony Mundine and more, Horn will never be mistaken for unseasoned. We can debate the quality of his performances in those fights, but the fact of the matter is there’s simply no substitute for world-class experience. Tszyu may have a number of physical advantages here, but there’s nothing he’s going to show Horn that he hasn’t seen before.
This fight is ultimately going to come down to distance. Tszyu likes to operate from range, using his long 72” reach to pick his opponents apart from the outside until it’s time to fire his missile-like straight right. Horn, on the other hand, prefers to get inside and use any available appendage to rough his man up. Elbows, forearms and even foreheads are bound to be used to wear down Horn’s opponents at close range. The outcome here will come down to whether or not Tszyu has the skill and stamina to keep Horn off of him and find some breathing room for his shots.
Most betting lines currently have Tim Tszyu as a clear favorite which, to be frank, is slightly confusing. If you’re looking for a comparable to this fight, remember back to Vasyl Lomachenko’s only career loss which came in his second professional bout against hard-nosed, Mexican banger, Orlando Salido. All the skill in the world couldn’t prepare Lomachenko for Salido’s, shall we say, questionable roughhouse tactics. It was an invaluable learning experience for Lomachenko, and one that helped rocket him to the top of most pound for pound lists. Tszyu may yet find himself in a similar position but first he’ll have to pass a test that he simply may not yet be prepared for.
While not exactly a “passing of the torch” fight in the classical sense, the winner of this fight will become the face of Australian boxing for the immediate future. Tszyu will attempt to make a statement that he belongs at this level. Horn will attempt to block the entrance to this tier by any means, or body part, available. It’s hard to pick against a fighter with Horn’s vast world-class experience, and at $2.50, it’s nearly impossible. Tim Tszyu may well end up being the second coming of his father but at this point, with the information we have available to us, Jeff Horn looks to be too much, too soon.
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