Kostya Tszyu: Will History Be Kind To Him

16.08.06 - By Ellen Robertshaw: I think it is fair to say that it is very unlikely that we will ever see Kostya Tszyu in the ring again. But, how will we remember this great fighter? Will he be remembered as the great hard-hitting Junior Welterweight, who took on the best his division offered, or as the man who quit on his stool after taking a severe beating from Ricky Hatton? Personally, I see the latter as very unfair. Kostya was clearly behind in the fight. Had nothing left in the gas tank and his only chance of victory was by KO and if Hatton had smothered him for 11 rounds there was no way he would change his tactics in the 12th.

Let me take you through the career of a fighter I regard as one of the best of his division in history.

Although he lived in Sydney, Australia, Kostya was a native of Serov, Russia, and he had a glittering amateur career. He moved to Australia in 1992 after the Soviet Union Collapsed and he had his first professional fight there in Melbourne beating Darrell Hiles by KO in just over a minute. His next opponent didn’t even last a full minute, however, as Tszyu quickly blasted him out.

In his fourth pro fight, Tszyu stepped up his level of opposition somewhat when he faced the very dangerous Juan Laporte. Laporte, although past his prime by this stage had been in with the very best and proved to be a stiff test taking Kostya the full distance in an entertaining 10 round fight, however Kostya prevailed.

Another notable scalp came in the 10th pro fight of Kostya’s career when he outscored the former WBA Lightweight king Livingston Bramble (also past his best, however) over 10 rounds. Bramble had fought in good company (Edwin
Rosario, Ray Mancini and Freddie Pendleton, to name a few).

A major high point came in 1995 (January 28th to be exact) when he stopped Jake Rodriguez in 6 rounds in Las Vegas (something the hard punching but rather one dimensional and predictable Felix Trinidad could not manage) to win the IBF Light Welterweight crown.

Kostya made 5 successful defences, one of which was a rather dubious “no contest” against Leonardo Moro Mas. Then he faced the challenge of the always-aggressive “Cool” Vince Phillips in one of my favourite places, Atlantic City. Disaster struck. In a massive upset, (understatement), he was stopped by Phillips in the 10th round. This shocked the boxing world and was
ring magazines 1997 upset of the year.

Kostya was not done, however. Far from it. He regained his title just four fights later (two of which were against former world champions) when he went to war against Diosbelys Hurtado. In a thrilling encounter, both men tasted the canvas in the first round, (Kostya was down twice), but Kostya stopped his man in the 5th.

Up until his defeat by Hatton, Kostya had some memorable moments. He took Sharmba Mitchell’s WBA belt in February 2001, and the undefeated Zab Judah’s IBF belt in the November of that year in a fight that had a disgraceful ending with Zab throwing a
tantrum like a spoiled child after he believed the referee Jay Nady stopped the fight too early (I don’t. I thought the decision was spot on).

Will Tszyu return? I hope so, but doubt it. I look on his career with affection. He gave us memorable moments. He is without a doubt one of the greatest Light Welterweights ever. Only the amazing Julio Cesar Chavez (who I genuinely feel would have been too much for Kostya in his prime) and Aaron Pryor are greater. Pryor would have possibly defeated Tszyu, too, with his all action style (Kostya hated being backed up). However, had Kostya landed flush, you never know. Still, the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr. would not have posed a problem for Kostya, in my opinion, for he never had trouble with slick boxers during his career. Frankly, I doubt Mayweather would have lasted the distance.

I hope you have enjoyed my article. Please comment on it and you can email me at

Article posted on 16.08.2006

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