Revealed: Tszyu takes huge risk with next fight
Tim Tszyu will take the ultimate gamble by fighting Dennis Hogan before his world title shot.
Tszyu and Hogan have signed contracts to fight each other on March 31, with the venue to be decided soon as Sydney, Newcastle and Gold Coast vie to host the event.
Hogan has fought for world titles three times, falling short each time in what were his only defeats in a 32-fight career. He and Tszyu are widely regarded as the best super-welterweight boxers in Australia.
Tszyu could have opted to stay out of the ring until his WBO world title fight is confirmed, after champion Patrick Teixeira defends his belt against Brian Castano on February 13 in California.
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Tszyu could also have taken an easier, keep-busy fight against a lesser rival so as not to risk defeat or injury before his shot at title glory.
"I don't see it like others do, for me this is not a big gamble," Tszyu said.
"When I go to fight for that world title, I'm going there to win it, not to be a participant and just compete, so this fight against Dennis Hogan is the perfect preparation.
"Every fight for me is a big step up, every fight is a must-win fight. If I am to be a world champion, I've got to destroy whoever is in my way, and right now that is Hogan."
Tszyu was set to fight for the WBO title next month because Teixeira could not get out of Brazil due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The sanctioning body indicated that Teixeira, who has not fought since winning the belt in November 2019, would be stripped of the title, with Tszyu and Castano to face off for the belt, and the winner would defend it immediately against Teixeira.
However, Teixeira surprised officials when he was able to get a visa to the United States at the last minute, allowing him to defend his belt against Castano, forcing Tszyu to wait for his opportunity.
At the same time, Hogan had his title prospects cruelled by the coronavirus. He was set to face former champion Julian Williams last December in the US in a title-eliminator, however the second-wave surge of the pandemic there forced a cancellation of the bout.
Now, 35-year-old Hogan has the chance to ruin Tszyu's title aspirations and take the opportunity for himself.
Tszyu (17-0, 13KO) is undefeated and has stormed to No.2 in the WBO after knockout wins over Jeff Horn and Bowyn Morgan, and it would be a disastrous setback should he lose to the tough Irish-born Hogan.
Tszyu's manager Glen Jennings said the 26-year-old star would not make the same mistakes as other Australian title contenders.
"We know what we're up against in Hogan, but boxing is a gamble and it's pointless going through the motions,' Jennings said.
"Every fight for Tim has to be something moving him forward, not sideways or backwards. We've got the two best junior middleweights in Australia going up against each other, it would be remiss of us not to take this fight because it is the ideal preparation for a world title.
"Time and again we've seen Australian fighters who are on the fringe of a world title take lesser options, and then when they get there they're completely overwhelmed."
Hogan (28-3-1, 7KO) has lost to undefeated superstars Jarmall Charlo (31-0, 22KO) and Jaime Mungia (36-0, 29KO) in his past two bouts, stepping up to middleweight to fight Charlo in New York.
He is a natural super-welterweight and, having been a regular sparring partner for Horn during his world championship run, will be confident of turning the tables on Tszyu.
Tim Tszyu vs Dennis Hogan
March 31, venue TBC
Tszyu: 17-0, 13KO
Hogan: 28-3-1, 7KO
Originally published as Revealed: Tszyu takes huge risk with next fight