Nikita Tszyu knows what’s at stake on Wednesday night, fighting in a city that welcomed both his brother and father and celebrated them as one of their own.
“There’s a lot on the line with this,” Tszyu told reporters on Tuesday.
“There’s my family’s name, there’s the legacy behind it. That pressure, it’s keeping me sharp, it’s keeping me really motivated to perform at my absolute peak.”
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Tszyu recounted hearing audible chants of ‘Tszyucastle’ from the Hungry Jacks near the stadium in the past – such was their volume. But this time, they’ll be for him.
“I hope that the people support me the same way they supported my other family members,” he said.
But as he noted last week, Tszyu wants to do this on his own merits, despite his famous surname.
“I hope that they enjoy the performance that I give, and they truly appreciate me for the fighter that I am, not for the last name that I hold.”
The 24-year-old is promising a “more disciplined” showing than his professional debut, but said that he’s not focused on the positive reception he’s likely to get against the undefeated Mason Smith.
“I’m not thinking too much about that, kind of really in a zen stage – I’m not trying to overthink about the fight, just think about good things,” Tszyu said.
“When the time comes, that’s when the chaos begins. Until then, I’m going to be like a little monk.”
Smith is 5-0 as a professional fighter, and has carried himself throughout the build-up with an air of confidence, which even Tszyu has appreciated.
It’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but Smith is straddling it nicely.
“It’s really exciting for us, but we do a really good job at blocking out that outside noise,” Smith told reporters.
“That’s why we probably seem so calm and confident, because we’ve put the planning in place and we’ve done the right things.
“Coming across as arrogant? It’s not arrogant at all, just confident that we’ve done the work.”
Smith said given the stature of his opponent, he and his camp would have been ‘crazy’ not to take the fight, even at short notice.
“This was our call-up, you know? This was our opportunity to get maybe, three to five fights ahead, not just one fight here. We’re going to be fighting in front of Australia on pay-per-view, there’s going to be a lot of people watching,” he said.
“The boxing world in Melbourne, they already know what we’re about – and it’s going to be really good to showcase that in front of the broader audience.”
KING OF THE CASTLE FIGHT CARD AND WEIGHTS
Wednesday, Newcastle Entertainment Center
Paul Gallen 103.86kg vs 102.26kg Kris Terzievski (10 rounds for Australian and Australasian heavyweight title)
Nikita Tszyu 69.06kg vs 69.48kg Mason Smith (six rounds at super-welterweight)
Harry Garside 61.04kg vs 61.06kg Layton McFerran (10 rounds for Australian lightweight title)
Sam Goodman 55.00kg vs 55.20kg Fumiya Fuse (10 rounds for IBF inter-continental and WBO Oriental super-bantamweight titles)
Hassan Hamdan 64.40kg vs 63.82kg Trent Girdham (six rounds at welterweight)
Amber Amelia 58.34kg vs 58.48kg Sara Jalonen (five rounds at featherweight)
Hironiri Mishiro 61.06kg vs 61.04kg Francis Chua (eight rounds at lightweight)
Linn Sandstrom 51.94kg vs 52.18kg Floryvic Montero (eight rounds for WBC Australian super-flyweight title)
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