Before his fight on Wednesday night, Tim Tszyu was dealt a warning by Barry Michael.
The Australian boxing great declared Japan’s Takeshi Inoue to be the “toughest challenger Tszyu has ever faced”.
If everything went as expected on Wednesday, the WBO No. 6 was going to come out fast and aggressive early before the undefeated Tszyu came out on top later with the final blow.
Tszyu himself predicted he would knock Inoue out in the sixth round.
What followed on Wednesday night was anything but that, with Tszyu claiming a win by unanimous decision but Inoue would not lose any admirers either.
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“It is world-class toughness, he’s [Inoue] seen all kinds of shots and stood up to it,” Ben Damon said in commentary for Main Event.
“He’s only getting better.”
Inoue was measured and watchful early, assessing the situation as Tszyu made the big moves, landing a left uppercut to throw the Japanese star off his feet for a brief moment.
It would prove to be a recurrent theme throughout the fight, with Tszyu hammering Inoue with heavy blows and the uppercut in particular doing plenty of damage.
Inoue though would withstand the barrage, even finding the energy to explode in the final round but he could not find the knockout punch to floor Tszyu and claim the win.
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“Tszyu has done enough and it is world title time,” Damon said in reaction to the bout.
“A great fight between two world-class boxers. Takeshi Inoue showed other-worldly toughness. Stood up to the barrage, dug deep and produced big shots of his own.
“He finishes the fight on his feet. Tim Tszyu has done enough to win through to his shot at the world title. He will learn so much from that. He has had to go to a new level against the piece of granite that is Takeshi Inoue.”
Tszyu himself echoed those sentiments in hilarious fashion post-fight, candidly admitting: “I f***ing hit him with anything and he doesn’t go down”.
“Built like a brick wall,” the Australian added.
“I don’t think any heavyweight can drop him. Hands up to him, he’s a warrior. In all honesty, I heard him squeal 20 times and he still wouldn’t go down.”
It would have been all too easy for Tszyu to lose his patience, still unable to find the knockout blow as the rounds dragged on and Inoue remained on his feet.
He did not do that though, refusing to take the risk and Paul Kent said that approach in itself is something for Tszyu to take out of Wednesday’s bout.
“That showed real maturity,” he said.
“He didn’t get frustrated, he didn’t continue to go for it when he knew he couldn’t get him down. He won convincingly.”
Tszyu said similar post-fight as he called out the rest of the junior middleweight division.
“That was the best thing that could have happened,” he said.
“A good 12 rounds in before I hit the big time. All the great boxers have to do 12 rounds. I was knocking everyone out in 3-4 rounds and was getting a bit too confident.
“You boys finish your little honeymoons. Get back in the gym and start training. I’m coming for all of you. Every single one of you.”
He came for Inoue, Stevie Spark, Dennis Hogan, Bowyn Morgan and Jeff Horn.
Every single one of them thought they had what it took to best the undefeated Australian but he has left all five in his wake.
Brian Castano and his world title is the first up next.