The world went wild after Tim Tszyu showed off a “sickening” skill in Newcastle that is set to drive him all the way to a world title shot.
It wasn’t just the fact he beat Dennis Hogan to a pulp, but the way he did it.
Tim Tszyu extended his unbeaten streak to 18 fights and set himself up for a world title shot by destroying the Irishman via a fifth-round TKO in their super welterweight bout in Newcastle on Wednesday night.
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Hogan drew first blood — literally — when a clash of heads opened up a cut above Tszyu’s left eye early in the fight but the Aussie superstar quickly recovered to launch a stunning assault that had the fired-up crowd chanting “Tszyu-castle” as he landed a series of heavy blows.
Hogan was a step up in class from Tszyu’s last fight, an easy first-round KO of Bowyn Morgan, and the 36-year-old came out swinging. An even first round was followed by a second where Hogan made clean contact with some slick overhand rights.
But the tide turned in the third as Tszyu found his range, coming out with some crushing body blows that made his opponent wince.
The body barrage continued in the fourth as Hogan’s liver copped a pounding. A vicious uppercut floored Hogan and he only just made it back to his feet before Tszyu continued to work the body.
Hogan hung on bravely but it was clear he was cooked as his torso copped a hammering and his trainer threw in the towel midway through the fifth round to save his pupil from receiving any more punishment.
How the boxing world reacted
The attack on the body was something boxing fans haven’t seen much of before from Tszyu. Everyone was predicting a fight against Hogan would be his toughest test yet and he rose to the occasion, showing off a terrifying new string to his bow.
Main Event commentator Ben Damon said late in the fight Hogan “looks sick when he takes those (body) shots”, while Aussie boxing legend Jeff Fenech added: “Body shots are killing him.”
Boxer Billy Dib tweeted: “The body assault is clinical.”
“I really like the look of Tim Tszyu,” added Tom Gray, the managing editor of boxing bible Ring Magazine. “He’s great at cutting the ring down, has superb variety, and he’s as strong as an ox. His right hand was a bit wild, but he’ll sort that in no time. That left uppercut knockdown!”
Irish journalist Kevin Byrne was in awe of what he saw.
“Hogan had two decent rounds to begin with and Tszyu went back to the corner with a cut eye,” he tweeted.
“At that stage we just saw a different animal in Tszyu, looking to close the show and delighting in dishing out maximum violence.
“Could see Tszyu smiling as he walked forward and threw bombs. Dennis had a few moments in the second when he might have thought he was getting on top but think he was genuinely hurt to body in third and it sank from there.”
Tszyu: I’m taking the soul of my opponents
We’d seen glimpses of the bodywork against Jeff Horn last year but Tszyu took things to another level against Hogan.
“It seems to be the new thing — going to the body and taking the soul of these opponents,” Damon said to Tszyu during his post-fight interview.
The son of boxing legend Kostya Tszyu replied: “This is not tic tac, we’re not ballerinas here dancing around. We’re punching each other.
“I’m going to do some serious damage and hurt my opponents.
“In the ring this is my kingdom, and this is where I take control.
“I could see it (Hogan wilting from body shots) from round two. I was warming up only. I could go another seven more rounds of this pace or even more.”
Dissecting the fight in the aftermath, Main Event’s Paul Kent was in awe of Tszyu’s ability to add a frightening weapon to his arsenal before the blockbuster showdown.
“That’s the remarkable thing. He goes away and he purposely works on some aspect of his fight plan and his skill set and then you see this dramatic improvement,” Kent said.
“These body shots here … it just takes everything you’ve got. You feel the strength ooze out of you and they’re very hard to come back from. Once you get shot after shot on the liver, it’s the beginning of the end.
“He (Hogan) couldn’t stand up to that onslaught.”
Australian boxing icon Barry Michael suggested “they should call Tszyu the body snatcher from now on”.
Social media also noticed Tszyu’s new tricks. Sports journalist Cody Kaye tweeted: “@Tim_Tszyu shows us something new every time. That bodywork …”
Irish reporter Niall McGrath wrote: “Tszyu’s body shots were sickening as the towel comes in from Hogan’s corner. Punishing stuff.”
Fellow reporter Donagh Corby was singing the same tune. “Dennis Hogan gave a good account of himself but the bodywork was too much and then that beautiful shot pretty much finished it. Great fight,” he said on Twitter.