By Arne K. Lang
On Wednesday, Aug. 26, at approximately 9:30 pm Australia time, junior middleweights Jeff Horn and Tim Tszyu will enter the ring for one of the most-anticipated domestic clashes in Antipodean ring annals. The 10-round bout will take place at the spanking new Country Bank Stadium in Townsville, home of the North Queensland Cowboys professional rugby team, and will be streamed in the U.S. on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank. (Today is often tomorrow in Australia so check your local listings and be prepared to have your alarm clock go off early.)
Jeff Horn will always be remembered for upsetting Manny Pacquiao. He upended the Filipino legend on his home turf in Brisbane on June 2, 1917, winning the WBO welterweight title on a unanimous but yet highly controversial decision. The bout aired on ESPN and ESPN Deportes in the United States and attracted a peak viewership of 4.4 million.
After one successful defense, Horn lost the title to Terence Crawford. In his last start, Horn upset the form chart once again, avenging a previous defeat with a 10-round decision over fellow Aussie Michael Zerafa. That upped his record to 20-2-1 (13).
Jeff Horn is good copy because his fighting style (he’s a mauler) is incongruent with his white-collar background. A former PE teacher, he is the nephew of Brisbane’s former Lord Mayor.
Horn will be the underdog once again on Wednesday. At last glance, Tim Tszyu (15-0, 11 KOs) was an 11/5 favorite. Tszyu has youth on his side – at age 25, he’s the younger man by seven years – and he has an impressive pedigree. His father Kostya Tszyu was a special talent.
The elder Tszyu was named to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2010 in his first year of eligibility, but you won’t find his name on the list of all-time great native Australian fighters. That’s because Kostya wasn’t a native; he was born and raised in Russia. But his son was born in Australia and it’s been said of Tim Tszyu that he is potentially the best native Australian fighter since Jeff Fenech.
That may turn out to be quite a reach. Unlike his dad, Tim Tszyu had a very brief amateur career. He doesn’t twitch as quick as his father which makes him easier to hit. And you can count Jeff Fenech among the naysayers. “Tim’s got all the skills and ability in the world,” Fenech told the sportingnews.com. “but I just don’t know if he’s got the roughness and toughness that Jeff Horn’s going to bring to the ring.”
Horn fought his last two fights at middleweight. Although he’s coming down in weight, he figures to be the bigger man. He plans to pressure Tszyu from the get-go, he says.
This has the earmarks of a very fan-friendly fight. And the result will be known before many folks in North America get out of bed on Wednesday morning.
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