The boxing wish lists in 2022 will soon be on the horizon and Tim Tszyu may feature in a few.

Unbeaten as a pro after 19 fights the 27-year-old Australian super-welterweight looks every inch a future world champion and fans and media will likely be jotting down ‘Tim Tszyu v Brian Castano’ as one of the fights they want to see next year. Tszyu was named the WBO’s mandatory challenger for Castano’s world title back in August and now we wait for the potential barnburner to be signed off. 

“After this one I hope Castano’s next,” Tszyu told Boxing Social last week.

The son of the legendary Kostya has looked ready for the next step in recent fights. His win against Jeff Horn in August 2020 was something of a passing of the torch. The 8th round victory cemented his status as the face of Australian boxing as he outmuscled and powered through the veteran who retired on his stool in what would be his final fight. Tszyu’s trademark single right hands and body shots then proved far too much for Bowyn Morgan, Dennis Hogan and Steve Spark (who was a late replacement for Michael Zerafa) over the following 12 months.

“The progression has been exceptional for myself,” said Tszyu.

“I’m in the gym getting rounds in, getting ring experience and getting ring time in It all plays a big part in your development as a fighter. The success comes from keeping yourself active.”

“I’m a completely different fighter,” he says of his development since the win against Horn. 

“The way I feel in the ring, in terms of experience, in terms of feeling pressure and stylistically being able to learn the sweet science. Doing hundreds of rounds in camp you’re obviously gonna learn, obviously gonna build differently each time. Every fight camp brings out new challenges and new ways to bring things out and stylistically makes me a better fighter.”

Tszyu had looked like facing former world champion Tony Harrison this month before talks fell through forcing the team to look for a new opponent. Tomorrow at Qudos Bank Arena within Sydney Olympic Park, Takeshi Inoue (the WBO super-welterweight number 6 contender) has the daunting task of putting the brakes on the Tszyu train. A win would cap off a satisfactory year for Tszyu, but he admits to feeling some disappointment at not landing a world title shot in 2021.

“It is a bit of a disappointment but at the same time it’s all about the process and the journey and what’s destined to be is what’s destined to be, it’s quite simple. The fact that I’m still fighting here in Australia in front of thousands, being able to put on big shows here in Australia and giving fans something to look forward to, that’s what boxing is all about.”

So, what of the test that Inoue brings? A record of (17-1-1, 10 KOs) has one significant fight that stands out and that was the wide 12-round points defeat to Mexican machine Jaime Munguia (then at 154lbs) in January 2019. The scorecards really didn’t do Inoue’s performance justice. Inoue certainly tried to back his man up on the ropes before unloading punches, but his opponent always appeared to do more than enough on the outside and with his renowned punch combinations to keep him at bay and secure the victory.

Inoue appears to be patient in his build-up on the front foot when he is allowed to dictate the pace of a fight, something which Tszyu will unlikely allow him to do. He also carries reasonable power (evident in his win against Cheng Su last year) and bulk in his 154lb muscular frame that the home favourite will have to shift if he is to face Brian Castano next year.

“He’s got one gear and he moves forward. He’s a work horse. He’s built like a machine. That’s all he’s got,” said Tszyu dismissing the threat of his adversary

“There’s certain things I’ve been working on in camp that you’ll see on the night,” he adds. “It’s all about patience, timing and composure and we’ll see how he deals with pressure from me.”

Crowds and media flock to a Tim Tszyu fight week and fight night. Something the man of the moment has become accustomed to. Watching his father handle the pressures and expectations of the world’s wildest sport has rubbed off on him because Tim Tszyu actually thrives off the whole experience when it comes to fight week.

“I love it,” he enthused.

“A lot of the time people are under the radar when they fight for a world title, I feel like I’m fighting for a world title in every fight. The people tuning in, the amount of media that’s coming in. Once I get to the world title stage none of it will be new this is all I’m used to and all I’ve ever done.

“I love it when you turn into an animal, you’re in the zone, it’s a good feeling being able to lock your eyes with your opponent. Once fight night’s here it’s go time.”

Should Tszyu come through tomorrow’s fight then what many fans have been waiting for should come to fruition next year. Whether that takes place in Australia or indeed the USA where Tszyu is eager to fight is for others to sort out. Tszyu wants a world title around his waist soon which means the work won’t stop for the year after fighting Inoue.

“I’m ready to go to the States. Every young kid’s dream to fight under the bright lights over there,” he said.

“I’ve got world titles win so Christmas is definitely out of the way, I need a strap around my waist. I’m not here to relax, to enjoy myself, I’m here to work like a horse for the next 10 years, make as many big fights as possible and as much money as I possibly can and then I’ll retire into the sunset.”