It was no quick kill or the knockout his ravenous fans have come to expect and crave. But Tim Tszyu’s latest conquest was just what he yearned for as Australian boxing’s emerging global superstar edges ever closer to a long-awaited world-title shot.
“Healthy” was Tszyu’s considered response when asked to assess his clinical performance after yet again underlining those credentials with a unanimous points victory over Takeshi Inoue on Wednesday night.
It was a high-risk path that Tszyu did not need to take. But, looking unstoppable, Tszyu rose to the occasion for his sternest test yet to prevail after 12 tough rounds and improve his undefeated professional record to a 20-0 – 15 by TKO.
“Something I needed in my career, that’s for sure – 12 rounds,” Tszyu said. “Just being able to grind it out the whole time. I got used to these annihilations so it’s good to get the rounds in with a durable opponent.”
Durable being an understatement. Including towel downs and medical repairs, Inoue courageously withstood a near-hour-long barrage of head and body blows from Tszyu before accepting his seemingly inevitable fate.
“The guy is built like a brick wall. I don’t think a heavyweight could drop him. What a warrior,” Tszyu said.
Already the mandatory No 1-ranked challenger to Brian Castano’s WBO light middleweight belt, Tszyu is hoping his latest comprehensive triumph will finally clinch that world-title shot against the Argentine early next year.
All bets would have been off had the 27-year-old lost to Inoue. But the 10,752 fans who packed Qudos Bank Arena, including a who’s who of Sydney NRL stars, need not have worried.
Tszyu dominated from the get-go. While he was unable to record a 16th knockout win, Tszyu was never in doubt of getting the nod from the judges after leaving Inoue battered and blue.
“I heard him squeal like 20 times and he wouldn’t go down,” he said. “I was very surprised, cos I just kept hitting him with everything and he’s a warrior, man, a Japanese warrior. Respect to him.
“That was the best thing that could have happened, 12 rounds before the big time. I’ll be back in the gym, I need to take these guys out.”
And with a message to Castano and all of his 154-pound competitors, he declared: “I’m coming for all of you. Every, single one of you.”
Tszyu’s manager Glenn Jennings will be in deep discussions with the sanctioning bodies, promoters and Castano’s camp to determine when – and where – that world-title blockbuster can take place.
A sticking point could be Castano’s potential rematch with Jermell Charlo after their controversial split draw in Texas in July which the Argentine was convinced he had won.
Should that take place, and Castano wins, Tsyzu could be in line for a unified mega-fight for all four straps. It would be nothing less than the Sydneysider deserves in his obsessive quest to follow in footsteps of his legendary fighting father Kostya and become a world champion.