Nikita Tszyu says he will bring a more mature and “tactical” style of boxing when he takes on Darkon Dryden this weekend.
Tszyu (3-0, 2KO) will take on Dryden (4-0, 4KO) in a six-round bout on Saturday at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre as part of the Super Saturday boxing festival.
The 24-year-old went the distance with Ben Horn in his last outing and admitted he let the “hype” around his early career form get to his head.
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Tszyu said he no longer feels the urge to land a knockout punch and will be content for the fight to go the distance so he can showcase the full range of his boxing skills.
“The last performance was more a showcase of the hype that I have and persevering through tough times,” he said.
“I wasn’t in perfect health for that fight and my mentality going in to the fight wasn’t at its best. Even just the style and tactics that I had wasn’t something that I am very proud of.
“But it’s a great learning experience because I got to really push myself and really push deep down and find the inner strength you need.
“I kind of let the idea that I could knock anyone out get into my head, that I was searching for that one shot that will equalise the opponent.
“And that’s not boxing. Boxing is about hitting and not getting hit. Boxing’s a beautiful sport, it’s art. That last fight wasn’t a showcase of art, that was just something barbaric.”
Willing opponents have been hard to find for Tszyu, whose latest foe is Dryden, a Newcastle local known for wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask on his ring walk.
Dryden has only fought four fight but has secured KOs every time and he’s confident he can spring a huge upset on Saturday.
“You could give me a pay check to fight in Coles carpark,” he said.
“This has got me out of bed every morning, this has got me training hard. I’m ripped, ready to go. I’ve trained my arse off the last six weeks to take this opportunity with both hands.
“It just says a lot about the division. I got off the lounge to take this and I plan to pull it off. I honestly genuinely don’t see this going his way.”
He believes this fight is “make or break” for Tszyu, and he plans on winning via stoppage late in the fight.
“We’ll see in the first round but I can box, I can brawl, I can do whatever,” Dryden said.
“I’ve mowed through my last few opponents but I can do it all. If he stands up then he’ll bring out the best in me.
I’ve seen no improvement to be honest so unless he’s done a lot this training camp, I see me walking away with the win. I reckon I’ll stop him late.
But Tszyu believes he will showcase the best version of himself yet in this fight.
“I think this next fight is going to be a closer representation of how I used to fight in the amateurs, where it was very tactical and more based on getting inside someone’s head and outmanning them, taking away all their skills and strengths,” he said.
The Tszyu-Dryden clash is one of 20 fights to be held over 10 hours in a festival atmosphere at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre.
In the main event. Veteran Dennis Hogan will take on Sam Eggington for the IBO Super Welterweight world title.
Also appearing on the card are Sam Goodman and Irishman Darragh Foley, who will both have a throng of their travelling supporters cheering them on in Newcastle.
How to watch the Super Saturday Boxing Festival?
The boxing extravaganza will be shown on Fox Sports, Main Event and Kayo Sports.
You can watch the undercard fights on Fox Sports from 4pm.
The pay-per-view main card, which can be purchased for $59.95 to watch via Main Event or Kayo, still start from 7pm.
What time does it start?
The undercard starts at 4pm, with the main card to begin at 7pm.
It’s hard to know when the likes of Tszyu and Hogan will step in the ring, but it will likely be from around 9pm.
FULL FIGHT CARD
Dennis Hogan vs Sam Eggington for IBO Super Welterweight World Title
Nikita Tszyu vs Darkon Dryden
Sam Goodman vs Jason Cooper for IBF & WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight titles
Lachie Higgins vs Cody Beeken
Darragh Foley vs Blake Minto for vacant IBO International Lightweight title
Shanell Dargan vs Ayisha Abied
Jayde Mitchell vs Mark Lucas
Ella Boot vs Zoe Putorak (vacant Australian welterweight title)
Tywarna Campbell vs Jessica Adams (Australian super featherweight title)
Richie Fa’aoso vs Louis Marsters
Amber Amelia vs Danni Mace
Ashleigh Sims vs Sarah Watt
David Light vs Vikas Singh
Bailey Mannix vs Dan Murray
Antonia Talivaa vs George Peterson
Jason Fawcett vs Jayden Riddle
Tylisha Turner vs Brianna Harrison
Bryce Jones vs Hector Tapueluelu
Jack Tressider vs Dan Harwood