With 18 wins from 18 fights, including 14 knockouts, it’s no longer a matter of “if” but “when” Tim Tszyu will become a world champion.
- Tim Tszyu is the number one-ranked contender in the WBO junior middleweight rankings
- Natalia Tszyu says she prays for her son and his opponent during every fight
- Tszyu’s manager Glen Jennings says he is hoping to arrange a future fight in Moscow’s Red Square
His mother Natalia knew her son was destined for greatness in the ring even though she did everything to deter him from following the footsteps of his famous father and former undisputed world champion, Kostya Tszyu.
“Honestly, I’m telling you as a mother from the bottom of my heart, I didn’t want to see [more] blood, I didn’t want to see pain,” Ms Tszyu said.
Boxing has been part of Natalia Tszyu’s life for three decades.
It’s a life Tim Tszyu understands all too well.
“It’s a brutal sport that she has spent most of her life around,” he said.
Ms Tszyu moved to Australia from Siberia as a teenager in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union with her then-boyfriend Kostya and without a word of English between them.
Despite a marriage breakdown, the challenge of raising three children as a single mother and rebuilding a new career in real estate, Ms Tszyu could not escape boxing.
Despite her fears, Ms Tszyu beams with joy when she reflects on her son’s achievements.
“Of course, every parent is proud of their kids but I’m definitely very proud Tim,” she said.
“[Either] the next one or a few more fights after that will be for the world title.”
A nervous wreck
The bond between mother and son is heartwarming, as the 26-year-old reveals what his mum is like before a big fight.
“I don’t think that will ever change.”
But when it comes to advice, it still seems mother knows best.
“I always say to Tim, do your best, be a gentleman inside and outside the ring,” Ms Tszyu said.
She also finds comfort through prayer.
“I pray a lot, not just for my son but the other boys he fights, that they’ll all be safe,” she said.
“At the end of the day it’s not only my son fighting, but another person with his own family, wife, kids or mother.”
Excitement is now building for a world title fight after Tszyu’s clinical fifth-round TKO victory over Dennis Hogan in Newcastle last month.
Chip off the old block
According to Tszyu’s manager Glen Jennings, Kostya was commentating on the fight in Russia for local TV and called to congratulate Tim afterwards.
Jennings was also Kostya’s manager and has known Tim since he was a baby.
“I was there when he was born,” Jennings said.
“I’ve watched him grow from a boy to a man.”
Although Tim is taller than his dad and fights at super welterweight, two weight divisions higher than the light welterweight division that Kostya unified in 2001, Jennings describes the similarities between the two as striking.
“I have a quiet smile to myself when I see some of his moves.”
Tszyu senior moved back to his native Russia in 2012.
And, despite all Kostya’s accomplishments, there was one thing in his career that he never managed to achieve — something Tim’s management team hope to rectify.
From Russia with Love
“I remember when in 1992 we came to this country with Tim’s father and the story was From Russia with Love,” Ms Tszyu said.
“They wanted to put Kostya’s fight in [Moscow’s] Red Square but it was a difficult time.”
The 1990s represented a decade of chaos and economic crisis for the former Soviet Union as it transitioned from communism to capitalism.
For Natalia Tszyu, the distant dream lives on.
“I’ve been in boxing for 29 years and my wish is to bring Tim to Red Square,” she said.
Jennings is hopeful of turning that dream into a reality.
“Red Square is a real option I’ve been working on for a while,” he confirmed.
“Kostya never got to fight in Russia.
“We planned for it but it never happened.”
Jennings is weighing up options and says Red Square will be reassessed on international travel movements and COVID recommendations.
The opportunity to showcase the Tszyu legacy at Moscow’s famous Red Square, according to Jennings, would be “icing on the cake”.
It would also mark a fitting tribute for an immigrant woman who left her homeland as a 19-year-old to start a better life.
“We are proud Australians but inside our personality and blood is still Russian,” Ms Tszyu said.
“I think Tim would love to show that to the world.”