Tszyu proves He is still the undisputed ruler of the 140 LB. Division
By Darren Yates (November 8, 2004) 
Photo © Tom Casino/ SHOWTIME
After an extremely long 22 months of being absent from the ring for devoted Coasty Tszyu fans, we were treated to one of the best performances in Kostya Tszyu's career to date. I'm now thinking it was well worth the wait! I'm not going to give a round by round analysis, I feel my colleagues Chris Robinson, Frank Gonzalez Jnr, George Elsasser and Jeff Mayweather have done plenty in this regard. I will attempt to reconstruct my observations as I feel there were a lot of things happening that most people did not pick up on, both before, during and after the bout.

I must admit that I was not looking forward to watching Tszyu-Mitchell II as much as their first meeting, not because I thought Mitchell would give Tszyu problems, it was more along the lines that I figured Mitchell would run and hold for dear life again like he did in their first bout and I would again be disappointed in seeing a less than entertaining bout. I am so glad to have been so wrong!

Both men were in better physical and mental shape this time around. Sharmba Mitchell entered the ring with a supremely confident look on his face and Tszyu entered the ring with the same amount of confidence, the only difference I noticed about Kostya was that he looked meaner than usual and seemed intent on inflicting some major damage on Sharmba Mitchell.

Most of the American press thought Father Time and nearly two years out of the boxing ring would work against Kostya Tszyu. I believe Father Time caught up with Sharmba Mitchell whose style is not the best for an aging fighter, as he relies on running away from his opponents and fighting his man on HIS own terms. I enjoy on occasion being able to see things that other boxing writers and enthusiasts are unable to see and what I saw leading up to this bout was a good but average ex-champion in Sharmba Mitchell beating some good but average fighters. (No disrespect here, but Mitchell and the men he has recently beaten are NOT OUTSTANDING fighters compared to say a Bernard Hopkins, Felix Trinidad or a Oscar de la Hoya in his correct weight class).

In his recent bouts leading up to this showdown, I saw Sharmba Mitchell having his way with his opponents without having to deal with any of the pressure that I knew Tszyu would place on him. On top of this I saw Mitchell being hit with right hands from Ben Tackie & Vince Phillips, punches he should not have been taking if he was as good as he liked to tell us all! Sharmba Mitchell should feel very fortunate to have been crowned the IBF 140 pound interim champion as I feel he was extremely lucky to get the decision over the equally skilled Lovemore Ndou. I saw Mitchell struggle with each of these opponents in one form or more and thought to myself... How the in the world is he going to be able to cope with sharp and in form Kostya Tszyu?

I give credit to Mitchell where it is due, I thought he won a close 1st round. It was blatantly obvious to me that Sharmba Mitchell was a lot stronger this time round as he was holding Tszyu in clinches in a much stronger fashion than in their first bout. Mitchell was fighting so much more confidently in the first round than he did in their initial bout; this was a mistake as Kostya's form in the first meeting was of the sloppiest of his career. Only in his bouts with Hector Lopez and Vince Phillips did Tszyu reveal such blunt skills in a previous bout.

The reason Sharmba Mitchell lost this rematch is he is just not as skilled as Kostya Tszyu and this opinion has raised a few eyebrows in disbelief from my colleagues when discussed in the past. Mitchell tried to spin Kostya on a couple of occasions to get the angle on him without success and Sharmba also tried a couple of times to unload multiple combinations of punches like he did against Tackie & Ndou but Tszyu had done his homework well and smothered these attempts with subtle defense. Sharmba did land a few good solid shots through the course of this bout but Tszyu evaded most of Mitchell's punches with superior head movement.

For an ALLEGEDLY superior defensive fighter (a lot of boxing analysts view on Mitchell), it did not take long for Tszyu's trademark right hand to find a home on Mitchell's chin, and again I must point out that fighters who are southpaws and run away from their opponent a lot are not necessarily good defensive wizards like a Pernell Whitaker in his prime!

Mitchell and his people were worried about Tszyu using wrestling and roughhouse tactics and they underestimated his skills and his ability to adapt. As in their first bout, Mitchell initiated the clinches whenever Kostya came too close and he added some bull like charges as that pushed Tszyu off balance a few times. Tszyu tried again tried to break the clinches but instead of trying to throw Mitchell to the canvas, Tszyu hit Sharmba in the clinches with his free hand and he hurt Mitchell a few times with a slashing left hook which left that swelling around Sharmba's left eye and a monster bruise on his left temple too.

Once again Tszyu's main weapon of choice was the straight right hand and most boxing observers are well aware of its awesome reputation. Tszyu delivered his right hand with artistic beauty and landed it often, flush, fast and hard with pinpoint accuracy. In this bout I was however more impressed with his left hook. Tszyu rocked Mitchell on at least 5 or 6 separate occasions. I have not seen Tszyu hurt an opponent this effectively since his bouts with Miguel Angel Gonzalez in 1999 and Leonardo Mas in 1997, (Tszyu dropped Mas three times in the first round with left hooks. What should have been a 1st round TKO is listed as a no contest). Tszyu was throwing his left hook fast and was turning his weight into the punch better than ever. This is good news for his fans and bad news for his future opponents.

I must admit I was hoping for Kostya Tszyu to administer a beating to Sharmba Mitchell similar in nature to the one he gave to Jake Rodriguez back in 1995, but this performance exceeded all of my expectations and dreams. Kostya's performance was one the best of his career, I won't get carried away by saying it was his best as his calculated destructions of Jan Bergman and Miguel Angel Gonzalez were probably better than this.

I'm a big fan of poetic justice and Sharmba Mitchell has done a lot of talking and name calling over the last three and half years since the first Tszyu-Mitchell bout in February 2001. To me, the beating Mitchell took he basically asked for and I do not have one ounce of sympathy for him. I do feel for the woman who was shown on the Australian telecast crying, I assume she is Sharmba's wife or girlfriend and it must have been hard for her to see him taking such a ruthless hiding.

For those of you who think that Tszyu won this bout just because of his power think again. Tszyu is an exceptionally skilled boxer whose technique is barely rivaled in the sport. Because Tszyu is such a big puncher many observers and especially his opponents fail to see his subtle head movement to avoid many punches or his ability to cut off the ring and close the distance between himself and his target. Tszyu is not a slugger with average boxing skills like Ricardo Mayorga & Arturo Gatti. Tszyu has always possessed superior boxing skills that are equal to those possessed by Roy Jones Jnr & Oscar de la Hoya. Kostya has never really been given the credit he deserves for his skills because he does not fear being hit in the way Jones Jnr & DLH do and Kostya is not a runner in the ring like a lot of the fighters who are commonly regarded as the best technical boxers.

I say to the American media in general: Give Tszyu his due in regards to his boxing skills!

I have read in the Sydney Daily Telegraph that Mitchell said he has never been hit so hard in his life and a few other complimentary comments about Kostya Tszyu. It was nice to see the end of all of the hot air coming from his direction. Future opponents need to remember two things about Kostya Tszyu:

1.) Don't bad mouth him, it just makes him more intent on hurting you in the ring and you just end up being sore and sorry for yourself as well as having egg on your face.

2.) Avoid cutting him with headbutts. On three occasions now I have seen Kostya Tszyu split open by accidental headbutts. On all three occasions the offending opponent was brutally stopped by TKO not long after the cut occurred. Jake Rodriguez accidentally cut Tszyu with a butt in the 6th round of their bout and was stopped the same round. Jan Bergman butted Tszyu in the 6th that caused an extremely nasty cut (the worst of Tszyu's career) over his eye and yet Tszyu delivered the most spectacular knockout of his career less than 90 seconds later. We all saw what happened to Mitchell yesterday after the accidental butt.
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