Return or Retire, Kostya’s Dilemma

22.10.05 – By Andy Meacock: Around about 5 months ago, I wrote an article for ESB titled, ‘Come June 4th, Hatton Commits Tszyu-icide!’. Now without bringing it all back up I predicted that Kostya Tszyu would stop Ricky Hatton in or around the sixth round. Clearly I got that one wrong as the younger and hungrier warrior Hatton would stop the aging champion at the end of a gruelling battle for both men.

Now since then Hatton has signed to fight WBA champion Carlos Maussa on November 26th in Sheffield, England. Tszyu however has been less decisive with his plans. Since June 4th, Tszyu has been taking time out to contemplate whether on not he should further his boxing career. It’s quite understandable that he takes a lot of time out to make the right decision, especially when you consider the mental, physical and emotional devastation he went through against Hatton.

So whilst Tszyu wisely takes time to decide his future, we wonder what comes next…

One thing we do know is that a rematch against Hatton is highly unlikely, Hatton’s camp have sounded that out clearly. We also know that if Tszyu does return then it will be in the welterweight division and not at light welterweight, where he reigned for so long.

So I guess the question is this, should Kostya Tszyu make a return or should he retire?

As a God fearing man, I tend to act on the side of caution. My attitude in relation to aging boxers is for them to hang the gloves up. Looking at boxing now we have a lot of aging greats that are just taking beatings and ruining their legacies.

Look at Roy Jones Jr or Evander Holyfield as examples. In the 90’s these men were megastar boxers and great boxers at that. When I looked at those guys I saw greatness and I admired them. I still respect boxers like Jones Jr and Holyfield but the fact is they are past their best. They have lost that shine that made them special and they look worse as time goes on. That shine I just referred to has been smeared by age and time. Jones Jr and Holyfield need to retire, period.

So as you will gather there, I tend to prefer aging former champions to leave the game at the right time rather than hurt themselves and their legacies.

For some reason however, I think that Tszyu should return to boxing at welterweight. Tszyu lost to Hatton on June 4th because Hatton was a bad match up for him, this is easy for me to see in hindsight. Hatton’s pressurising style was one that Tszyu simply was unable to come to terms with, just as he wasn’t able to come to terms with Vince Phillips, who like Hatton put heavy pressure on Tszyu.

Since June 4th lots of people have said things like, ‘Tszyu is old’, ‘Tszyu is too injured’, ‘Tszyu is done’. I think that these types of comments are made at heist sometimes. People see a bandwagon and jump on it without really assessing the facts or looking at the bigger picture. Also comments like that are disrespectful to both Kostya Tszyu, as well as Ricky Hatton for that matter.

Many of these people who are calling Tszyu old are the same people who were praising him less that one year ago after his three round destruction of Sharmba Mitchell. So I believe that Tszyu losing to Hatton was more a case of styles than it was to do with Tszyu sliding.

So if Tszyu does return to boxing at welterweight then who shall he fight?

The welterweight division is the strongest division in boxing now in my opinion. The division is stacked with a number of good fighters like Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito and maybe, just maybe Oscar de la Hoya. Add to that the likelihood that Miguel Cotto will be moving up soon and the pound for pound no1 Floyd Mayweather debuts at 147lps in November.

Personally, I’ve love to see Kostya Tszyu fight any of these guys but I think my three choices of opponents for Tszyu would be Mosley, Mayweather and Judah.

Tszyu/Mosley would be an interesting fight due to styles. I’m not sure who I’d pick in this one. Mosley is a very strong man and would be able to push Tszyu around if he wanted to but I’m not sure if Mosley would adopt that approach. This fight is a pick em for me.

Tszyu/Mayweather is a fight that should have really happened at light welterweight.

I’m not sure Mayweather would ever take this fight however as his recent choices of opponents have been disappointing, in a Roy Jones-esque way. Although it’s hard to imagine Mayweather losing I think that Tszyu is the kind of fighter that could pull it off. It’s a styles thing. Tszyu has the punch that could put Mayweather away if it landed. I’d favour Mayweather to win a decision over Tszyu but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Tszyu pulled off a knockout win.

The fight I’d most like to see Tszyu in is a Judah rematch. The first fight between these two is a very bad memory for Judah, due to what happened during the fight and after, I refer to Judah’s infamous behaviour towards the referee Jay Nady. This rematch would be great for several reasons but mainly because it would be an opportunity for Judah to gain revenge and a chance for Tszyu to re-establish himself in the boxing world. I don’t think the fact that this fight is a weight class higher than the last fight would be significant as neither man is huge at welterweight or light welterweight for that matter. So comparing their weights is like comparing apples to apples…

Again, this is a tough fight to call as Judah was clearly out-boxing Tszyu in the first fight before the big right hand landed. I’d probably pick Tszyu to win but again it’s a pick em fight.

In closing, we should respect whatever Kostya Tszyu decides to do. It’d be nice to see him fight again but if he doesn’t then we should remember him as the long reigning light welterweight champion, rather than the man who sadly retired on his stool in the Hatton fight. Tszyu’s reputation as a great fighter and great sportsman is cemented, irregardless of what comes next…

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