Boxing 2023: Tim Tszyu’s relationship with dad Kostya, takes his posters down off family gym, Brian Mendoza fight

Tim Tszyu has opened up on his complex relationship with his father Kostya as he prepares to contest another fight with his old man on the other side of the world.

Tszyu (23-0, 17 KOs) takes on American Brian Mendoza on the Gold Coast on Sunday and is the heavy favourite to win his third bout of the year in what’s expected to be his last fight on home soil.

The 28-year-old is defending his WBO super welterweight belt and is just one of four Australian world champion boxers at the moment, along with Jai Opetaia, Andrew Moloney and Ebanie Bridges.

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But Tszyu has bigger fish to fry than Mendoza. His hopes of becoming unified world champion were dashed when trash talking American Jermell Charlo pulled the pin on their fight.

While Tszyu would like to beat Charlo one day, his camp says Charlo has had his chance and the undefeated Aussie is targeting superfights against boxing megastars Errol Spence, Terrence Crawford and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

If he manages to beat them, Tszyu will go down in history as one of Australia’s greatest ever boxers alongside his world champion father Kostya and Jeff Fenech.

Tszyu has a complex relationship with his dad, who hasn’t been ringside at one of his son’s fights for several years and now watches Tim’s fights via FaceTime.

His mother Natalia and grandfather Boris remain a strong presence in Tim’s life after Kostya left his wife and kids to start a second family in Russia over a decade ago.

Tszyu has previously spoken about how his dad was “never there for us” during his childhood as he prepared to uproot the family and moved to Russia.

Tim is clearly proud of his dad’s achievements and the work ethic he instilled in him, proudly showing off a shrine to Kostya’s boxing career in his childhood home.

“I guess dad’s success set an example for us — where we wanted to be and what we wanted to do,” Tim told Sporting News.

“It’s everything to have grandpa’s support. He’s never missed any of my fights, even in the amateurs.

“I just need people that are true to themself and people that are loyal to me and I’m loyal to them.”

But he’s also intent on making his own name in boxing after spending his whole career listening to opponents claiming he was only in the spotlight because of his surname.

He speaks to his dad before every fight but takes Kostya’s boxing advice with a grain of salt.

Asked on the Hello Sport podcast if he ever gets sick of his dad telling him how to fight an opponent, Tszyu said: “A lot of times actually, especially the older you get.

“Dad sometimes forgets. I respect what he’s done of course but we’re in a different era now. We do things differently.

“He says one thing and I’m like, ‘Nah I’m not doing that, I’m going to do it my way’. He’s like ‘Nah man you can’t do it that way’ and I’m like, ‘Man I’m doing it my way’.

“You haven’t lived here for what 20 years dad, it’s all good man I’ve got it figured, don’t worry about it.

“Of course I respect his opinion, what he’s gone through and done. He hasn’t been back for a long time.”

Tszyu has also taken another step to separate himself from his famous father by taking down promotional posters of Kostya’s legendary fights and relegating a handful of them to one section of the family’s gym.

The modest brick-walled gym in the Sydney suburb of Rockdale is set to be renamed the Tszyu Boxing Academy and is now adorned with Tim and his brother Nikita’s fight posters.

Tszyu is also conscious of not becoming “like my dad” and chewing his younger brother’s ear off with boxing advice.

Nikita, 25, fights in the same super welterweight division as Tim and will fight Australian champion Dylan Biggs in November in his toughest test yet.

“I try give him a little bit (of advice) but I don’t want to be like my dad, basically,” Tim said about giving his brother boxing tips.

“So I always put that into consideration. I always just say, ‘You should do this man’. I usually say, ‘This is how I feel better, this is what I do. See how you feel’.”

Giving an insight to his Kostya’s brutally tough approach to fatherhood, “losing wasn’t an option” for him even as a child.

“I came second in cross country. Came back home, told my dad you know, I came second,” Tim recalled.

“He looked at me and goes, ‘Mate that’s not good enough’. He made me run from Year 3 to Year 4, 5.15am wake up call before school three times a week.

“Of course, that’s the last thing I wanted to do at times!

“I remember I was getting emotional when I was running, I was having breathing problems because I was losing. Then Year 4, Year 5, Year 6 came first every time.

“That’s just how we was. Losing wasn’t an option. Second place is not an achievement. But habits were just taught into us.

“My dad was a rock star back in the days. I could see it. Everyone recognised him. He had the Bentleys, the mansion, he had all of that stuff.

“But we lived in a Soviet Union type system where the training had to be 100 per cent. It’s all about how you’re raised I guess.”

You get the sense Tim won’t be fully satisfied until he’s a unified world champion to completely step out of Kostya’s shadow.

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