Kostya Tszyu - Hall Of Fame Worthy? Teddy Atlas, Joe Tessitore Not 100-Percent Sure

By James Slater: Some fans, upon reading the question posed in the title of this article will very possibly scream, “Of Course!” And it’s true, Kostya Tszyu, who, along with Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez and actor Sylvester Stallone, will be inducted into The Hall Of Fame this week, was a very good fighter. And it may seem unfair to rain on the parade of “The Thunder From Down Under;” mere hours before he goes in at Canastota.

However, as all fans who tuned into last night’s edition of Friday Night Fights will be aware, commentators Teddy Atlas and Joe Tessitore did, as Joe put it, “have some pause” over whether or not Tszyu is worthy of being enshrined. Atlas agreed with his partner’s caution, pointing out that all of Tszyu’s losses came via KO. Atlas went further, suggesting The Hall has to put in more names than are deemed fully worthy so as to attract a big crowd come induction weekend. “It’s a business,” Teddy explained.

So, what do you guys think? Does Tszyu deserve to be where he is?

Some fans may look at the Australian as the single fighter of the three (he, Tyson and Chavez) who may not quite have earned his place in boxing immortality. A very fine fighter in his day, Tszyu won the light-welterweight title in just his 14th fight (the IBF version) and went on to add the WBC and WBA versions during his long tenure as the best 140-pounder in the sport. And “The Thunder From Down Under,” who was actually born in Russia, managed wins over sensational fighters such as Rafael Ruelas, Miguel Angel Gonzalez, (a faded) Chavez and Zab Judah amongst others. However, what might have hurt Tszyu’s chances were his losses - to Vince Phillips in the midst of his prime years, and to Ricky Hatton, when Kostya quit on his stool in his final fight.

Both losses were stoppage losses, and some fans, had they had their say, may have been at least slightly dissuaded from voting him in as a result. Neither Tyson nor Chavez lost in their prime, after all. I think the majority of fans will be angry at the mere suggestion that Tszyu may not be worthy. After all, many lesser fighters are in, aren’t they? Barry McGuigan and Ken Norton to name just two arguably good or very good fighters but falling short of being truly great. Also, if Atlas is concerned at how Tszyu has been voted in, where is his debate as to whether or not Stallone is deserving of his spot?

Tszyu orbited around the top of the Pound-for-Pound ratings for long periods of his exciting career, and he beat some very good, if not great fighters. His final record 31-2(25) is indeed a fine one. On the negative side, Kostya never avenged either off his two defeats, he quit on his stool in one of his biggest fights, and he became incredibly inactive in the final three years of his career - with just one fight in each of 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Add it all up and should Tszyu be in? Yes. But we have debated less worthy issues over the years.

Article posted on 11.06.2011

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