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Tim Tszyu (21-0-0) made a statement on his United States debut, beating Terrell Gausha (22-3-1) by unanimous decision (116-111, 115-111, 114-113) on Sunday after -midday.
It was far from comfortable for the Australian, who was knocked down in the first round as the aggressive Gausha sent an early warning signal to Tszyu.
Tszyu, however, leveled off and dominated for the majority of rounds as the fight stretched the distance, unlucky not to have a knockdown in the fourth round.
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In the end, that moment of controversy didn’t matter, with Tszyu being crowned the winner and Gausha losing no admirers after continuing to come back and push the relentless Aussie all the way.
Tszyu is set to pocket $1 million for his troubles against Gausha, which is yet another indicator of the growth of his brand and name.
“It was good to face adversity for the first time and to come back,” Tszyu said after the fight.
“He’s a hell of a warrior and a real gentleman. This is a big lesson for me. I got up and dug deep. He kept coming forward and I was like ‘F*** it’, I’m going to keep fighting.
Gausha was widely considered Tszyu’s toughest challenge to date – and possibly the final stepping stone in his quest for a world title.
Tszyu had warned ahead of Sunday’s fight that he was not just in America to “compete”.
“I’m here to really pick up the slack and I believe that,” Tszyu said.
“It’s in my heart, in my destiny.”
It’s now a waiting game for Tszyu, who is set to face the winner of the blockbuster unification bout Brian Castano-Jermell Charlo in May.
Getting back to the fight itself, Gausha landed a first-round knockdown, stunning Tszyu with a straight right hand.
“Tszyu is in trouble…he’s at war right now,” Ben Damon said in a commentary for Main Event.
“The accuracy of that shot was absolutely perfect.
“The big question is how long can this guy do this, because Tim is not going to stop,” added Australian boxing legend Jeff Fenech.
Tszyu did well to recover and land a few overhand rights in the second round while Gausha responded with a strong counter attack.
An accidental clash of heads then opened up on a cut to Tszyu’s hairline.
Tszyu continued to improve as the fight continued and landed some huge punches in the fourth round, including one that looked like it scored the Aussie with a knockdown.
The referee ruled it a slip in a moment of controversy.
“Very lucky we didn’t have a knockdown against him,” Damon said.
“It will be over in the sixth round,” added Fenech.
Tszyu continued to find success with his body shots before an overhand right put Gausha on the verge of defeat.
“How did he stay awake?” Damon asked.
“Tim Tszyu is going to start this next round like the last one. Can Gausha stay up with that? I don’t think he can,” Fenech added.
“He’s hanging on for dear life.”
Gausha was then cautioned in the sixth round for hanging on to Tszyu’s gloves, although Fenech cheekily added, “I would hold on too.”
Such was the dominating grip Tszyu had on the fight at the time, relentless with his pressure and tiring Gausha after the American landed the first punch.
Gausha, to his credit, landed a short right in the seventh round, but the difference this time around was that Tszyu was able to take the hit without too much trouble.
Tsyzu kept coming in round eight and Gausha continued to get aggressive, making it right back to set up a thrilling finish.
The Aussie had spoken during the week of wanting to get into the ‘war’ and that’s exactly what he got, in what Fenech called the ‘fight of the year’.
“What a fight, this could be the fight of the year,” Fenech said.
“The Minneapolis Massacre,” Damon replied.
“The statement that he [Tszyu] fact is that he is made of something else, the tenacity he has shown and dominating passages of this fight, that will make people talk.
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