By Alexey Sukachev
This past weekend former undisputed (WBA/WBC/IBF) junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu became the first ever prizefighter from the former USSR to secure possibly the biggest boxing honor by being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota alongside five more living legends: Mike Tyson and Sylvester Stallone, El Gran Campeon Mexicano Julio Cesar Chavez, famous Mexican trainer Ignacio Beristain and fair-but-firm referee Joe Cortez. Tszyu also became the third boxer, born in what was once the Russian Empire, to be enshrined to the IBHOF (Benny Bass and Louis “Kid” Kaplan being the other two).
Slava Malamud, who works as a US-based reporter for “Sport-Express” daily, talked with Tszyu in Canastota and received some interesting quotes for the Thunder from the Down Under. Here are some of them.
About his retirement, “Actually, I’m done with the game. But I don’t want to make any formal announcements now. Maybe I’ll wish to come back to the ring in the future. Who knows”.
About his Motherland, “I have never fought for either Australia or for Russia as a pro. I have represented both of them in the squared circle but I have never fought for them. I have fought only for myself as a real pro. I’ll put it this way. And also, don’t forget, I’m the third post-Soviet fighter to win a world title past Yuri Arbachakov and Orzubek Nazarov…
… I don’t know anything about my Mongol roots. That’s a funny thing. I should ask my father to tell me about my Mongolian blood (laughs)”.
About his place among junior welterweight greats, “Who is the greatest I don’t know. Maybe Aaron Pryor or Julio Cesar Chavez. I have beaten Chavez but he was already 35 (in fact 38). Manny Pacquiao is fascinating among present boxers. But, actually, it’s not my job to compare our achievements. It’s what experts should do, not me. I can hardly compare myself with boxers from other eras”.
About the brightest impression in his career, “Judah fight was very memorable. It was possibly my most appealing achievement as I was able to capture three belts at once to become the undisputed king of the division. That fight was very entertaining, and Zab helped me much to make it such a thriller. But there were some other interesting moments in my career. For example, against Miguel Angel Gonzalez I performed the best possible way. It was a hundred percent fight from me. So, now I’m the only fighter from the former USSR to enter the IBHOF”.
About his possible successors, “There is nobody from Russia, whom I see here in the foreseeable future. Speaking about the former Soviet Union… I doubt that the Klitschkos will appear here anytime soon. Vic Darchinyan? Maybe, he will get here but maybe not. To be inducted to the Hall of Fame means you are loved and praised worldwide. And Vic isn’t loved worldwide. There are places, where he is appreciated, and there are places where he is not”.