MINNEAPOLIS – Tim Tszyu dealt with a little bit of everything in his U.S. debut.

He still emerged with his unblemished record and mandatory contender status still intact when all was said and done.

The unbeaten Australian rose from an opening round knockdown to punish former title challenger Terrell Gausha over twelve rounds in taking a well-earned unanimous decision Saturday evening from The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Judges Robert Hecko (114-113), Bill Lerch (115-112) and Patrick Morley (116-111) all scored in favor of Tszyu, the son of Hall of Fame former lineal junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu who continues to carve out his own name in the sport.

“It was a great experience,” Tszyu told BoxingScene.com of his first career fight in the U.S. “I’m glad I got the twelve rounds in, against a quality opponent like Terrell. I dug deep, I showed something that I’m all about.”

Gausha entered the fight vowing to bring something to the table that Tszyu hadn’t yet seen as a pro. The 2012 U.S. Olympian and former title challenger delivered on that promise, presenting Tszyu with adversity within the first three minutes of the fight after a pro career spent entirely in his Australia home land.

A clash of heads left Tszyu with a cut above his ear, though it was far from the worst of his problems. Gausha—whose lone title bid came in a twelve-round loss to Erislandy Lara in an October 2017 WBA junior middleweight title fight—connected with a right hand to send Tszyu to the canvas late in what was a near-disastrous first round of his American journey.

“The first few rounds I wanted to be cautious. And I got caught,” Tszyu admitted of his first career knockdown. “That obviously didn’t work. I wasn’t hurt. It was a flash knockdown. I threw a right, I didn’t see his right. What do you do? You get back up. It’s simple.” 

Chants of ‘USA’ came from the packed crowd of 4,394 at the intimate venue, though never to the point of discouraging the visiting unbeaten contender. Tszyu settled down in round two, still wary of Gausha’s right hand but beginning to take the lead during the majority of the exchanges. Tszyu used his jab to push back Gausha, though spending much of the round headhunting—an abandonment from his normally steady body punching attack.

Tszyu picked up the pace in round three, at a time when Gausha’s offense slowed down. Tszyu connected with an uppercut, also landing enough jabs to push Gausha to the ropes.

Gausha picked up the pace in round four, aware that it would take activity to discourage the onrushing Tszyu. Gausha hit the deck midway through the round, seemingly from a left uppercut by Tszyu though ruled a push by veteran referee Mark Nelson as Tszyu’s momentum forced Gausha to the canvas. Tszyu continued on the attack, landing a wicked left hook to the body as Gausha was trapped on the ropes and forced to fend off an overhand right in the closing seconds.   

Tszyu nearly had Gausha down early in round five, with the American barely avoiding a fall after getting clipped by a right hand drawing comparisons to his Hall of Fame father. Tszyu unloaded his offense, catching Gausha along the ropes and continuing to target the body. Gausha rode out an overhand right to land two straight rights of his own, which Tszyu took well and went into stalker mode. Tszyu avoided an overhand right from Gausha, coming back with a left hook downstairs and right hand as Gausha’s back was pinned to the ropes.

Gausha spent most of round six trying to regain his legs. He was warned by the referee for excessive holding, his most effective defense as Tszyu was relentless with his right hands and his left hooks, particularly to the body.

Tszyu kept Gausha well within his desired punching range in a punishing round seven. Gausha was not without his moments, landing a right hand to bounce sweat off Tszyu’s head. The singular moment was trumped by a number of heavy right hands by Tszyu, who also mixed in plenty of crippling body shots.

“It was a good experience, being able to see the shots and slowly put the pressure on him and break him down,” noted Tszyu, who landed 236-of-749 total punches (31.5%) according to Compubox, including 207-of-531 power shots (39%). “There was one round I could feel he was ready to go. I nearly got him out of there.

Gausha landed a right hand at the start of round eight, coming at the urging of head trainer Manny Robles who was convinced the fight was there for his charge. Tszyu pushed Gausha from one corner to another, but unable to apply the finishing touch. Gausha rode out combinations from Tszyu to offer return fire, drawing a rise out of a crowd clearly on his side.

It appeared to be a last stand from Gausha, whose moments were sparingly in the closing rounds. Tszyu walked forward without concern, punishing Gausha with left hooks and uppercuts. Tszyu connected with a long right hand as Gausha’s back was against a corner pad.

The same pattern held true in round eleven. Gausha was able to match Tszyu’s accuracy, though just not with the same frequency as Tszyu was calm in his punishing, two-fisted attack. Gausha tried to pull out a miracle in the twelfth and final round, landing a right hand though only after taking a pair of clean shots upstairs. Tszyu bullied his way inside, nearly getting too greedy as Gausha landed a right hand in the final minute. It had minimal impact as Tszyu let his hands go until the final bell.

It was a brave showing by Gausha, appreciated by the crowd though resulting in a lopsided loss. The veteran contender falls to 22-3-1 (11KOs), having posted just one win in more than three years which came in a second-round knockout of Jamontay Clark more than 13 months ago in Uncasville, Connecticut.

“I got a little too excited when I jumped on him. He recovered quickly,” admitted Gausha, who landed 163-of-587 total punches (27.8%), including 106-of-306 power shots (34.6%) in suffering his second loss in three fights. “I hope I gave the fans a great show. I trained hard and put my heart out with it.

“I hate losing but I went out like a champion.”  

Tszyu sails to 21-0 (15KOs) with the win, his sixth since the pandemic as he remains among the most active top-ranked fighters in the sport. It is the second consecutive distance win for Tszyu, who was extended twelve rounds by former title challenger Takeshi Inoue last November in Sydney. 

The second-generation contender expects to next challenge the winner of the May 14 undisputed junior middleweight championship rematch between lineal/WBA/WBC/IBF champ Jermell Charlo (34-1-1, 18KOs) and WBO titlist Brian Castano (17-0-2, 12KOs). The fight came with the blessing of Tszyu, who parlayed his status as WBO mandatory challenger into a lucrative pact with PBC.

“I can’t wait to do it again,” Tszyu said of returning to the states. “My dream is to fight in Las Vegas, but I wouldn’t mind coming back here. This place was incredible.”

As for the stakes of Tszyu’s next fight, that depends on the cooperation of his divisional peers.

“I have to stay active,” insists Tszyu. “If the boys are just gonna go on their honeymoon after their one fight this year, what am I gonna do? I can’t just wait around for my boxing love to come back. You gotta stay active and make as much money as you possibly can. And you have to improve day by day. It’s quite simple.”  

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox