Tim Tszyu was just three years old when his father made his final appearance in Australia before spending the rest of his Hall of Fame career in the United States.
The occasion took place at Newcastle Entertainment Centre, marking the seventh and final time that Kostya Tszyu played the venue. The occasion was brief, scoring a first-round knockout of Calvin Grove in April 1998 for his seventh win in as many fights at the intimate locale, with all but two coming inside the distance.
The younger Tszyu felt that energy in his first fight at the venue unofficially dubbed ‘Tszyucastle,’ stopping former two-time title challenger Dennis Hogan in the fifth-round of their March 31 main event. The second-generation boxer returns this Wednesday, facing late replacement Stevie Spark (12-1, 11KOs) in what is believed to be his last fight before pursuing a title shot at junior middleweight.
“The fans here are great,” Tszyu acknowledged of the location. “We fought Jeff Horn in a stadium. The crowd in Newcastle was 10 times more electrifying.
“This could be my last fight here or even in Australia. I definitely want to do something special.”
Tszyu (18-0, 14KOs) hoped for the opportunity to serve as the end game of a long developing grudge match with Michael Zerafa. Their previously announced headliner was compromised after Zerafa and his team refused to make the trip from Melbourne over concerns of potential quarantine procedures, though neither his hometown nor Newcastle have yet experienced the same COVID-related issues as has been the case elsewhere in Australia.
The show goes on thanks to Spark taking the fight on very short notice. The reaction both to Tszyu’s previous appearance on site as well as this upcoming show have been both pleasing to and nostalgic for his team.
“For me personally, it’s an amazing appearance and an experience I’ll never forget,” stated Glen Jennings, Tszyu’s manager who was also a chief member of Kostya Tszyu’s team. “I did seven events here with Kostya.
“If you can come just for the sporting event, you should. This could be the last time you see Tim Tszyu in Newcastle.”
A win will leave Tszyu as the top contender in waiting for the WBO junior middleweight title. The current champ is Brian Castaño (17-0-1, 12KOs), who faces lineal/WBC/WBA/IBF champ Jermell Charlo (34-1, 18KOs) in an undisputed championship showdown July 17 at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The winner will be in prime position to dictate when and where future championship fights take place, with Team Tszyu well aware of the possibility of hitting the road once he’s ready to contend for the title.
If only for that reason, the intention is for Wednesday’s show to serve as an everlasting memory.
“We’ve had great prep for the past 10, 12 weeks,” notes Tszyu. “I’m in it to take this guy out. Whoever they put in front of me, my objective is take my opponent out.”
The bout airs live on Main Event Pay-Per-View in Australia, and ESPN+ for U.S. viewers.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox