Tim Tsyzu
Tim Tszyu is all concentration before his world title unification fight against Sebastian Fundora. Image by HANDOUT/PREMIER BOXING CHAMPIONS
  • boxing

Tiger Tim ready to fight ‘giraffe’ for world title belt

Melissa Woods March 30, 2024

Tim Tszyu says he’s ready to fulfill his destiny as the Australian boxer looks to emulate his legendary father Kostya as a unified world champion.

Already the owner of the WBO super welterweight belt, Tszyu will look to add the WBC strap when he enters the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday (AEDT) against American Sebastian Fundora.

 Tim Tszyu says he’s ready to take his place among boxing’s elite. Image by HANDOUT/PREMIER BOXING CHAMPIONS 

He and Kostya can join Leon and Corey Spinks as only the second father-and-son duo to become unified world boxing champions.

It hasn’t been an easy preparation with Tszyu’s original opponent Keith Thurman pulling out through injury less than two weeks out with the “Towering Inferno” Fundora elevated to headline status.

Tszyu gives away 23cm in height to the American – the biggest height discrepancy in a world title fight outside of the heavyweight division – which forced a total overhaul of his preparation.

They both weighed in on the eve of the fight at 152.75lb, well under the 154lb (69.9kg) super welterweight limit.

“We’re two completely different animals, he’s a giraffe and I’m a tiger,” Tszyu said after facing off against the Californian.

 Sebastian Fundora will enjoy a 23cm height advantage over Tim Tszyu in their world title bout. Image by HANDOUT/PREMIER BOXING CHAMPIONS 

Tsyzu admitted the 197cm Fundora, also a southpaw, presented the most “awkward” challenge of his career.

“Of course he’s got height, but I back my ability against anyone in the world,” he said.

While boxing has always been in his blood, Tszyu said something “tweaked” in his brain on his first visit to Las Vegas as a teenager.

“It’s been a long road, but I’ve dreamed of this moment,” the 29-year-old said.

“My whole life, every moment has led to this point.

“I had a vision from a young age, in 2009 I came here to watch Manny Pacquiao fight Miguel Cotto and I had a tweak in my brain that this was where I wanted to be.

“It’s about collecting belts, collecting legacy, the greatest boxing family that’s ever lived, it’s happening right now.”

Kostya was set to travel from his home in Russia to be at the fight, having only once watched his eldest son in action, but changed his mind this week.

Tszyu said while the pair have a good relationship he was “very pleased” his father wouldn’t be ringside as it would possibly unsettle his lead-up.

“We’re very close but we’re actually quite similar and when you put two alphas together in one room, especially when your son’s the alpha now, it’s hard, even though I respect him so much,” he said.

Tszyu (24-0, 17KO) made his professional debut at the SCG back in 2016 and recalled one of his first fight pay cheques was a mere $1500.

Victory over Fundora (20-1-1, 13KO) is set to lead to a eye-watering payday for Tszyu, with $US10 million ($A15.3 million) on the table to fight either pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford or former unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.

While Tszyu has long been chasing those big fights, he says the time is right for him to join the greats.

He said his body had matured and also his fight IQ, with his US debut in 2022 against Terrell Gausha, when he was knocked down in the first round but regrouped to win by unanimous decision, a turning point. 

“My body has matured, and I’m in a different state of mind,” the ‘Soul Taker’ said.

“I’m a much more smarter fighter, I think my style has evolved and changed from the Terrell Gausha fight.

“I’m much more strategic, and my shots are much more calculated now so when I land, I actually land.”