Tim Tszyu will always have a high standard to live up to.
The 28-year-old Australian junior middleweight is the son of Kostya Tszyu, the dynamic former two-time junior welterweight champion who was inducted into the International Hall of Fame in 2011.
The younger Tszyu has a long way to go to catch up with dad but he has begun to make his own mark. That includes being upgraded by the WBO from “interim” to full 154-pound titleholder recently, his first major belt.
He will make his first defense against Brian Mendoza on Sunday afternoon in Broadbeach, Australia (Saturday night in the U.S) on Showtime.
But how do father and son compare at the same age? Have a look.
Tim Tszyu (23-0, 17 KOs) is undefeated. When Kostya Tszyu (31-2, 25 KOs) turned 28 in September 1997, he had just suffered his first of two career losses. Vince Phillips stopped him in 10 rounds in May 1997 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
That’s the only edge the younger Tszyu has over his father at 28.
Tim Tszyu has some impressive victories, including a unanimous decision over Terrell Gausha and a ninth-round stoppage of slick Tony Harrison that made him a top junior middleweight. However, Kostya Tszyu had already reigned as champion for two years by the time he lost to Phillips, with four successful defenses.
And his resume was strong, with victories over Juan Laporte, Livingstone Bramble, Hector Lopez, Jake Rodriguez (to win his first belt), Roger Mayweather and other proven opponents.
So, yes, dad was farther along than junior at the same juncture.
Tim Tszyu is just getting started, though. He’s in his prime and poised to do great things. If he gets past the hard-punching Mendoza (22-2, 16 KOs), he could end up facing the man he has chased for a year and a half, fellow titleholder Jermell Charlo.
And Charlo seems particularly vulnerable after his disappointing performance against 168-pound champ Canelo Alvarez, who easily outpointed the highly regarded Texan on Sept. 30.
If Tszyu gets that fight and wins it convincingly, he almost certainly will emulate his father by climbing onto pound-for-pound lists. (Will there have been a better father-son combination in terms of accomplishments?)
And Tim Tszyu can look to dad for inspiration post-28th birthday.
Kostya Tszyu recorded some of his most important victories following the loss to Phillips. He beat in succession Ismael Chaves, Rafael Ruelas and Diosbelys Hurtado to set up a title fight with champion Miguel Angel Gonzalez, whom Tszyu stopped in 10 rounds.
He later defeated Julio Cesar Chavez, Sharmba Mitchell (twice), Zab Judah, Ben Tackie and Jesse James Leija before finally getting stopped by a prime Ricky Hatton in 2005 and retiring.
Tim Tszyu could join his father in the Hall of Fame if he embarks on a run like that in the next few years.
Of course, Tszyu isn’t thinking about what might lie ahead. He must defeat Mendoza before he can even begin to think about following the lead of a fighter as great as his father.
“I’m focusing right now on Mendoza,” he told Boxing Junkie. “I haven’t really thought too much about the future.”