There was no finish, but Tim Tszyu made a statement in a unanimous decision victory (98-93, 98-92, 97-93) over Dwight Ritchie on Wednesday (AEST).
A cut near the left eye of Ritchie threatened to put an early end to the super welterweight title bout, but the brave fighter out of Shepparton, Victoria just kept on coming.
Tszyu opened Ritchie up in the third round with a big right hand, and stayed in control from that point on.
In just his fourteenth professional bout, Tszyu (14-0-0) kept his composure and raised his level in what was the biggest test of his young career at the ICC Sydney.
“I think it was a great experience,” Tszyu said post-fight. “Dwight is one hell of an opponent and kept me on my toes. He let me go somewhere that I haven’t been — something I can learn from, and can even get better.”
The win saw Tszyu, headlining his second Main Event pay-per-view, beat the man who was the No. 1 super welterweight in Australia to claim the WBO Global and IBF Australasian belts, and a potential top-5 world ranking.
But Ritchie was no easy beat.
“He was No. 1 in Australia for a reason,” Tszyu said. “All my respect to Dwight, he’s one hell of a competitor. I think his journey isn’t finished — it’s only just beginning.
“Same as mine. We’re both young, we’ve got a big future ahead. Maybe, you know what, in the future, we can fight for a world title in Australia one day.”
Tszyu’s left hook connected throughout, as did his straight right as Ritchie struggled to see it coming.
Ritchie stayed aggressive until the end, knowing he probably needed a finish. And while things got messy at times, Tszyu did well to stay in command and execute when an opportunity presented itself.
A couple months on from a decision win over Joel Camilleri, a measured Tszyu showcased his progress in what was potentially his most impressive performance yet.
As for what’s next, the 24-year-old kept his options open.
“It’s all up to my promoter, my team — they’ve got a road map ahead. I’m just here to fight and bring the big fights to Australia.”
Pushed on a potential showdown with Jeff Horn, who was commentating the fight, Tszyu said: “he’s got a big task ahead of him (Michael Zerafa on August 31)”.
“Once he finishes his task then we can talk.”
Some experts had Ritchie beating Tszyu, but it wasn’t to be for the 27-year-old, who dropped to 19-2-0 on his career.
“Nah, it didn’t mate,” a gracious Ritchie said when asked whether his eye made things difficult. “I don’t want to take anything away from Tim.”
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