‘Castano, I’m coming for you’: Tszyu beats Inoue in dominant display

In the end, the risk was worth the reward.

Tim Tszyu kept his undefeated record intact with a resounding unanimous points win against his best-credentialled opponent yet, Japan’s Takeshi Inoue.

The Australian retains his No.1 ranking, his mandatory shot at a championship belt and – if father Kostya has his way – a potential dream title defence in Russia alive.

Tim Tszyu celebrates winning the WBO Global and Asia Pacific Super Welterweight title bout.Credit:Getty

Tszyu couldn’t pull off his prediction of a knockout victory within six rounds, but couldn’t have been more impressive against the World Boxing Organisation’s (WBO) seventh-ranked boxer.

Tszyu knocked Inoue down in the final minute of the bout, but the challenger regained his feet and deservedly finished the contest on them.

The judges scored it: 120-107, 120-107 and 119-108 in favour of the hometown hero. His next fight could be for a world title.

“The guy is built like a brick wall,” Tszyu said.

Tim Tszyu defeated Takeshi Inoue.Credit:Getty

“I hit him with everything and he wouldn’t go down. I don’t think a heavyweight could drop him. What a warrior.

“I heard him squeal like 20 times and he wouldn’t go down. I didn’t feel shit, I was just having a good time in all honesty.

“That was the best thing that could have happened, 12 rounds before the big time. I’ll be back in the gym, I need to take these guys out.

“And a message to Brian Castano and all of the 154 pounders: ‘I’m coming for all of you. Every, single one of you.’”

As is the case with every contest, both fighters weighed-in just under the limit. However, Inoue posed a significantly larger challenge in a physical and literal sense. The outsider looked every bit a super-welterweight, from the moment he took off his shirt in a sparring session to the moment he stepped into the ring.

Tszyu was never going to walk straight through him like he did with previous opponent Steve Spark, who had just one week to step up two weight divisions.

Inoue again displayed an ability to absorb punishment; his only loss was in a world title fight to Jaime Munguia, who also couldn’t land the knockout blow that is his trademark.

Tszyu literally left his mark from the outset. Halfway through the opening round, “The Soul Taker” landed a vicious short left that resulted in swelling to his opponent’s forehead. From that moment, it seemed only a matter of time.

The ensuing rounds were a boxing clinic. Tszyu would land first and often, if not with the jab then with a left hand that seemed to hit with the same amount of power as his right. The 27-year-old mercilessly pummeled Inoue’s body, forcing the underdog to drop his guard and then make his head vulnerable.

Tim Tszyu and Takeshi Inoue exchange punches.Credit:Getty

Tszyu landed half a dozen uppercuts in the fifth round alone, but Inoue would not yield. Both men have now fought professionally 20 times and haven’t been stopped.

When Inoue faced off against Tszyu for the first time last week, the Japanese fighter was asked for his initial impressions of his opponent.

“He’s got a small head,” Inoue observed. “It means it might be harder for my punch to land.”

And so it proved. Inoue kept swinging until the end, but the telling blows were landed by the local.

Tszyu has been one of the world’s most active boxers. This was his fifth fight in just 15 months, an extraordinary output given the challenges that COVID-19 has presented.

Not that he has spent much time in the ring; Tszyu’s last three opponents have lasted less than nine rounds in total.

This was the workout he sorely needed – 12 tough rounds – before taking on the very best.

What happens next is unclear. Tszyu is mandated to fight for the WBO belt currently held by Brian Castano, although the Argentine may instead opt for a rematch against WBA, WBC and IBF champion Jermell Charlo.

That could put Tszyu in line to fight the winner for all of the belts, but nothing is ever a sure thing in the murky world that is world boxing politics.

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