Just two minutes into his much anticipated American debut, the air went out of The Armony in Minnesota when Terrell Gausha of Cleveland dropped Tim Tszyu of Australia with a sharp counter right hand, right on the button. Tszyu got up on wobbly legs and made it to the bell. Tszyu also suffered a hairline cut from a headbutt for his trouble.
It was the same way Gausha won his last bout against Jamontay Clark one year ago. But Tim Tzysu isn't Jamontay Clark.
Champions are forged by fire. Tszyu is not yet near the elite of the super welterweight division, but he staked his claim as a player by fighting his way back into the fight, quickly overtaking and dominating Gausha for the remainder of the fight. Tszyu took his first U.S. win by unanimous decision. Scorecards were 116-111, 115-112, and a surprisingly close 114-113.
Tszyu: ‘It was good to face adversity and come back'
Tszyu said it all went so quickly. “It was good to face adversity for the first time and come back. All due respect to my opponent Terrell Gausha. He's a hell of a warrior and a true gentleman.”
Tzsyu brushed off the early knockdown as a simple flash KD, nothing more. “Got me in there, perfect timing. He's a former Olympian. He's got great credentials. That's s good lesson for myself. I got up add dug deep.”
Gausha said he felt he had Tszyu in trouble after the knockdown but couldn't capitalize on it. “I tried to jump on him, but he's a tough fucking fighter. I came prepared, I was ready for 12 hard rounds. I think I got a little too excited. I tried to jump on him. He was in shape, so he recovered pretty good. He pressed the action.”
Gausha absorbed a lot of punishment with his failure to follow up the early knockdown. Gausha's lack of lateral movement put him right in front of Tszyu's offense, especially his tendency to back up to the ropes. Tszyu pinned Gausha there, and took the sting off whatever Gausha had to offer.
Tszyu (21-0, 15 KO) came close to scoring knockdowns of his own. In round four, referee Mark Nelson ruled one apparent knockdown a slip. Gausha (22-3-1, 11 KOs), barely avoided another knockdown the following round from a wide right hand. At this point, Tszyu's early stumble was forgotten with the fight momentum in his control.
“I was just enjoying myself. I felt in control the whole time,” said Tszyu. “I kept the pressure o the whole time. I said, ‘fuck it, I'm going to keep fighting.” This is a new round I have to dig deep and catchup. I didn't take one step backwards.”
Gausha: ‘I hope I gave the fans a great show'
Gausha did what he could to stay in the fight. Tzsyu took too much from Gausha, who lacked the legs and core strength to make any landed punches hurt. Trainer Manny Robles did his best to encourage Gausha, telling him before the final round to dig deep. Gausha earned some respect going the distance against Tszyu, and he landed a hard enough shot to push Tszyu back in the last minute of the fight.
The midwestern fans showed their appreciation for Gausha's efforts. “I hope I gave the fans a great show. I trained hard. I'm happy with it. I hate losing but I went out like a champion,” said the U.S. Olympian. That he did.
Tszyu said he's still got a lot to learn. “Everything. Everything and anything. There's a lot more to learn. This sport, there's so much to learn. You have to keep going, train hard and keep improving.” Tszyu said he'll be watching the upcoming title unification rematch between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano with great interest. “I'm coming for those two boys, whoever wants it can get it,” promised Tszyu.
The super welterweight division isn't among the most competitive in boxing, but Tszyu's arrival and the potential for Vergil Ortiz Jr. to possibly move up will change things fast.
Michel Rivera Wins Decision But Fails To Impress
OK, we get it. Lightweight Michel Rivera of the Dominican Republic bears some resemblance to Muhammad Ali. But it's unfair to expect Rivera to be a clone of The Greatest. Rivera isn't doing himself any favors with the moniker “La Salsa Ali.” Rivera is a perfectly competent fighter on his own terms, but he lacks the charisma of an icon.
Rivera (23-0, 14 KOs) delivered a solid performance against a rusty Joseph Adorno of Allentown, Pennsylvania (14-1-2, 12 KOs). Scores on all three cards were 97-93, but they agreed on just four of the ten rounds, giving Rivera the last three rounds. Whether it was the 11 months layoff or whether it was the man in front of him, Adorno wasn't busy enough, throwing fewer punches than his 41 per round average.
“I was looking for the knockout, but this undefeated guy is tough, a power punches,” said Rivera. “I feel so good. Everybody now is knowing me,” said Rivera in improving English. “Everybody now knows me. I say that I am the reincarnation of Muhammad Ali because I work so hard. I work so hard, so the people are comparing me to Muhammad Ali.” Rivera says he's ready for a world title, but he remains a level below the top names in a competitive lightweight division with all the belts currently in Josh Taylor's hands. If Taylor drops the titles to move up a division, Rivera will need to step up his game to get into the mix.
Elvis Rodriguez Ramps Up The Redemption Tour with Knockout Win
Dominican knockout artist Elvis Rodriguez (13-1-1. 12 KOs) got his second knockout streak officially started in a solid outing against Juan Jose Velasco of Buenos Aires (23-3, 14 KOs). Rodriguez showed patience sizing up Velasco in the early rounds, going to work once he learned what Velasco had to offer. Rodriguez deployed crisp power shots, focusing on a strong body attack. Prior to the seventh round, Velasco told his corner he was having trouble seeing out of his left eye, bleeding from a significant cut. Rodriguez sized up the problem and stepped on the gas. After three knockdowns in the round, referee Gary Ritter stopped the bout at 2:49 of the round.
“I was ready to demonstrate my skills for these fans here,” said Rodriguez. “When I first started, I started feinting and moving around. When I saw I was hurting him, I started moving in.” Rodriguez thought the fight would be over after the first knockdown. “But he surprised me coming back in that round. I covered myself well for the rest of the round and tried to take him out. I was seeing he was cut on the left eye and bleeding from the nose.”
Velasco put up a good effort and kept Rodriguez honest, but he was outgunned. Rodriguez landed 63% of his power punches, and landed 102 to 41 overall, with 42 body shots.
After a loss one year ago to Kenneth Sims, Jr., Rodriguez now has two solid wins and said he's ready for a top opponent. “Anybody at 140. Gervonta Davis or Rolly Romero, I'm prepared. Thanks to all the fans who came out.”