Former undisputed 140 lb. champ Kostya Tszyu was one of the best fighters of his generation, holding wins over Zab Judah, Roger Mayweather and Julio Cesar Chavez. I recently had a chance to interview Tszyu and asked him about his accomplishment in the ring. Kostya also spoke about his amateur career and how that helped him in the professional game. Additionally, Tszyu talked about the upcoming Lebedev-Jones rematch and a potential Mayweather-Pacquiao bout. Here is what Kostya Tszyu had to say in part 2 of his interview.
Robert Brown: You had an incredible amateur record; did having that extensive background help you in the pro game?
Kostya Tszyu: It does in some ways. It’s a huge experience but professional boxing is a completely different sport, it’s a different thing. At the same time it helped me in the beginning of my career, but the fitness level of professional fighters and amateurs for some reason is very different.
When you prepare for a long fight, you can enjoy your fighting much more than during amateurs. During amateur time, I used only my skills. I could fight fighters that were not able to touch me during the fight. Professional fighting is more enjoyable for me, it’s more interesting and more enjoyable.
Robert Brown: You got some incredible names on your record. How do you feel about the people you fought in your career and what you were able to accomplish? Are you satisfied?
Kostya Tszyu: Yes I am satisfied with everything I’ve done. The only thing is that unfortunately I didn’t have enough fights, because of bad management and some injuries in the end of my career that stopped me to fight a bit more.
Over 13 years of my career I only had 33 fights, and that’s not good enough, I think I could fight more. But unfortunately I had bad management and that’s why I didn’t fight some of the good fighters in my time.
Robert Brown: Are you disappointed that because of the current political climate in boxing, fewer fighters will have the chance to unify titles?
Kostya Tszyu: I try to use Floyd Mayweather as an example; it doesn’t matter if he fights for the world title or just fights for a normal fight. It makes no difference to people because he became so big, I think he’s become bigger than any world champion belt.
Too many organizations, too many promoters who want to do one thing, to make money.
Robert Brown: What are the chances of the boxing world finally seeing Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather if Manny Pacquiao beats Timothy Bradley?
Kostya Tszyu: It’s gonna be the biggest pay-per-view and it’s gonna be a great, great fight. So often I’m seeing who would win, sometimes I think Manny would win easy against Floyd, but the way Floyd fought against some of the big names, he still has a big chance because he’s never been knocked down still. He’s doing very good for himself. Right now he’s unbeatable and I would love to see that fight, definitely.
Robert Brown: In your mind is there any chance of the Guillermo Jones-Denis Lebedev rematch ending up with a different result than what happened in the first fight?
Kostya Tszyu: Yeah I hope so, because I’m not involved in that fight anymore. I walked away after that fight, I’m not dealing with the boys anymore. It’s gonna be a different approach I hope that Denis is gonna put to himself.
The new generation fighters got a different way of training from what I used to have. They are different, they are a new generation, they’re not hungry anymore like we were. Guillermo is not getting younger anymore, and the fight is gonna be here in Moscow again and he’s gonna have more pressure, in terms of mental pressure. You never know, I just hope that Denis is gonna do better than he did last time.
Robert Brown: Did you consider stopping the fight earlier due to the damage that Lebedev had sustained?
Kostya Tszyu: Yes, after each round during the break I asked Denis how he felt. For me that was an important issue for my fighter to be safe. Every question that I asked, he replied with the answer, “Of course I will fight.” We were in front, we nearly won every round.
Honestly, the bump on his eye was huge and big, but for us as fighters, that was only a scratch. It looked terrible, it looked incredibly terrible, but at the same time it’s part of our job. I remember myself during my career, when I had cuts or bruises or bumps on my eyes, or a broken hand — who cares? This is my personal problem. I’m in the ring to please people around.
You have to have an attitude in the ring that you prefer to die as a fighter, but not quit. In some way I’m responsible for what happened, in some way I’m very proud of what Denis did because he showed his heart, tremendous heart who never gives up in the ring.
Robert Brown: Do you have any regrets about how your last fight with Ricky Hatton finished?
Kostya Tszyu: Let’s come back to the question before about Denis Lebedev. Denis still had hunger during his fight against Guillermo, something I never had on my last fight with Ricky. That hunger was gone for some reason, and actually it’s very difficult to find it and get it from yourself if you don’t have it anymore.
I don’t have any excuse because I did fight wrongly, allowed Ricky to do what he did — brawl me. I wasn’t really smart enough on that fight to be able to control the fight the way I’m supposed to. I never regret it, it’s destiny, boxing has and will be a big part of my life.
The hunger in my last fight, it wasn’t there anymore. Unfortunately for that time, I found that I’m not prepared anymore to die in the ring. That’s the thing that allowed Johnny Lewis to stop the fight. It was time for the new fighter to be in the ring, unfortunately for me, but this is life.
Robert Brown: Did you know in your training for Ricky that your hunger wasn’t there, or did you realize until you got in the ring?
Kostya Tszyu: Actually not during the training. Training camp was good. I probably made a couple of technical mistakes in preparation, in terms of when it came to England. We trained normally during the day and not during the evenings because the fight was at 2 a.m. in the morning. I didn’t prepare myself for that. Unfortunately I never had the hunger that allowed me to die in the ring, and that was not during training, just during the fight.
Robert Brown: Do you have any message for all your fans around the world?
Kostya Tszyu: For every fighter who is just starting their career, I wanna give one simple advice; put a goal for yourself and go to reach that goal every single day. Be proud of every single second.