Champ Tszyu to channel Tyson against towering Fundora

Melissa Woods |

Sebastian Fundora will enjoy a 23cm-height advantage over Tim Tszyu when they meet in Las Vegas.
Sebastian Fundora will enjoy a 23cm-height advantage over Tim Tszyu when they meet in Las Vegas.

Dwarfed by his world title opponent, Tim Tszyu is channelling his hero Mike Tyson and plans to make a statement in his Las Vegas debut with a rare knock-out.

Tszyu will take on Sebastian Fundora on Saturday (Sunday AEDT), when he will try to add the super welterweight WBC belt to his WBO strap and become a unified world champion like his legendary father Kostya.

Californian Fundora stands a staggering 197cm, some 23cm taller than Tszyu with the height discrepancy the biggest in a world title fight outside of the heavyweight division.

Tim Tszyu says he’s hoping to ‘do a Mike Tyson’ on Sebastian Fundora.

It was in that division that the 178cm Tyson reigned as undisputed world champion for four years, and only once in his 55-fight career did he face someone shorter.

On three occasions he took on opponents the same size as Fundora – his first against 198cm Eddie Richardson back in 1985, which ended with a first-round knockout by Tyson.

“Mike Tyson back in the day used to knock a lot of people out because he was so short and stocky compared to his opponents,” Tszyu told AAP.

“We’re completely different fighters but the way he fought is an inspiration.

“There’s a bit of a challenge in finding distance and range in someone that tall but it could work in my favour – there’s a lot more body mass to hit.

Mike Tyson, sparring with former trainer Jeff Fenech, pummelled many of his taller rivals.

“Hopefully I can do a Mike Tyson on him (Fundora).”

Unbeaten in 24 fights, 29-year-old Tszyu’s usual style is to batter his opponent into submission.

He has won 17 fights by technical knockout but only two by knockout.

The Sydney “Soul Taker” said that was his intention for Fundora (20-1-1KO), whose sole knock-out came last year against Brian Mendoza, whom Tszyu then defeated last October.

“This will be something new – it’s going one-way – K-O,” Tszyu said.

Tszyu said despite Fundora’s height he was a “brawler” but didn’t bring any high-calibre power.

“He’s not much of a distance-type boxer, he’s a brawler, he’s got these weird upper-cuts that sort of land but I don’t think he’s got that crazy power – Mendoza told me he doesn’t have much power at all,” Tszyu said.

“When you’ve got a style like that you’re much easier to hit … the more punches you throw, the more you’re open to getting hit.”

Sebastian Fundora
American Sebastian Fundora (r) is 23cm taller than his Aussie world title opponent Tim Tszyu.

Fundora said he’d learnt from his seventh round “mistake” against Mendoza and didn’t plan on giving Tszyu the same opportunity.

“I know exactly what I did wrong in that last fight – I put my hands down and I leaned forward, big no-nos in boxing, and if you make those mistakes it costs you the fight,” said the 26-year-old, dubbed the “Towering Inferno”.

“I felt comfortable and that I was winning that fight the whole time and of course I made that mistake and I paid for it, but other than that I know what I have and what I can do in the ring and I know I can become world champion.”

Fundora, whose younger sister Gabriela won the IBF flyweight world title last year, said while his height was a new challenge for Tszyu, he didn’t need to use it to win.

“He (Tszyu) hasn’t fought a person my height so it definitely will be different but I’m not focusing on using my height, I’m focused on using my strategy and what I want to do to win.”