By Anthony Cocks
IBF number nine junior middleweight Dwight Ritchie 19-1 (2) has launched a war of words against IBF number 12 Tim Tszyu 13-0 (10) ahead of their clash at the ICC Exhibition Centre in Sydney, Australia on August 14.
Tszyu, the son of former undisputed junior welterweight champion and International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Kostya Tszyu, has been undefeated since turning pro in December 2016.
But Ritchie insists his famous surname will count for naught when they climb through the ropes.
“Obviously they’re very similar, Kostya and Tim,” Ritchie said on Main Event’s new Fighting Words series. “Tim tries a lot to emulate his father’s style, but unfortunately he’s like the home brand version of Kostya, he’s like the cheap version.
“There’ll never be another Kostya and he should stick to fighting his own style.
“I don’t think he has the power of Kostya, I don’t think he’s got the speed of Kostya, and I don’t think he’s got the smarts of Kostya.”
Tszyu remains unfazed by the criticism.
“This is great for me to be getting opportunities like this,” Tszyu said. “Before, no one would fight me. Now, when the attention is finally on me, everyone sort of wants a piece. So, great, this is my time. Step by step, I’m going to take them all out one-by-one.”
The 27-year-old Ritchie, who turned pro a decade ago, believes his experience will give him the edge against the fast-rising Tszyu, who defeated Joel Camilleri on points to claim the Australian title in his last fight.
“He’s just not ready yet,” Ritchie said. “I think maybe a few more fights, a few more times going the distance would have served him a lot better than jumping into this fight with me.
“I think he knows that. He’s never going to admit it, but he knows. Every fighter knows — you know when your number’s up, you know when you’re out of your depth.”
Tszyu, 24, has always coveted the big fights and says he has not only the name but the skills to take over Aussie boxing. If successful against Ritchie, he wants the winner of the Jeff Horn versus Michael Zerafa fight scheduled for August 31 in Bendigo.
“I’ve got a long career ahead of me,” he said. “I am the face of Australian boxing. We’re here to stay, we’re here to pack out arenas, we’re here to bring boxing back to where it should be.
“He’s going to move around. I’m going to walk through him, and I intend to hurt him. If it’s not a stoppage, I intend to hurt him for the whole 10 rounds.”