‘Doctors didn’t want me to fight’: Tszyu overcomes ear surgery and Horn

Nikita Tszyu defied doctors’ orders in going ahead with his fight against Ben Horn, revealing he underwent ear surgery just days before the anticipated bout.

Tszyu was given the sternest test of his fledgling professional career, scoring a unanimous points decision in the “Battle of the Brothers” at the Hordern Pavilion. Tszyu showed he could take a punch as well as give one in earning a unanimous points decision that was scored 60-54, 60-54, 59-55 in his favour.

The brother of world title hopeful Tim Tszyu, Nikita had spent less than eight minutes in the ring during his first two fights, but in Horn found a worthy adversary that pushed him all the way through to the sixth and final round. The bout, two years after Tim earned a technical knockout victory over Jeff Horn to effectively end the career of “The Hornet”, was close and entertaining enough for Ben Horn to call for a rematch.

“Give me more than three weeks [to prepare] and we’ll do it again,” Horn said.

“If everyone wants to see a war, let’s do it.”

If a repeat is to eventuate, it won’t be until October. That’s how long Tszyu’s handlers will give him to recover after cramming three fights into short succession, following an eight-year sabbatical from the sport.

Nikita Tszyu and Ben Horn embrace after their bout at the Hordern Pavilion.Credit:Getty Images

It was only after the event, staged at a sold-out Hordern Pavilion, that it was revealed the challenges Tszyu faced in the lead up.

“About 10 days ago the ear injury came to fruition,” said Tszyu’s manager Glen Jennings.

“He was quite sick from it, to the point where some balance [was affected]. The hard cartilage on the bone of the ear had separated from sparring.

“About three days later, a week out, we actually had a surgical procedure on it. It was quite sore and very inflamed.

Nikita Tszyu was pushed to the limit.Credit:Getty

“We only had the sutures taken out a couple of days ago.

“Nikita will go in on Friday and have that surgery done correctly and cleaned up and that cartilage attached back onto the bone.

“During that antibiotic process, it backfired on us because he had quite strong antibiotics for that surgical procedure. It made him very sick, he went downhill very quickly in terms of fitness and respiration and trying to train, really struggling from that. We’re talking only one week ago.”

Asked if there was any thought to cancelling or postponing, Jennings said: “I mentioned it once and was told to poke my head up my arse.”

Tszyu added: “The doctors were suggesting it. [But there] was too much at stake … you can’t cancel a week before.”

Tszyu’s ear injury was aggravated during an entertaining contest in which “The Butcher” was buckled during the final round. Horn, a 15-1 outsider with a mediocre professional record, briefly threatened to pull off an upset before Tszyu regained his composure to seal the result.

Tszyu landed 93 scoring shots to Horn’s body, but was also on the receiving end of telling blows to the face and body.

“He can take a shot, all credit to him, he’s tough,” Tszyu said.

“The minutes are the most important thing, being in the ring and facing someone who lands a few shots on you and pushes you back, that’s stuff that you learn.

“He didn’t necessarily hurt me but he had some weight to his punches. He was tough.

“There is so much to learn from this and I favour this experience to the quick ones.”

Earlier, Justin Hoges notched a unanimous points decision in his bout against podcaster Jordan Simi. All three judges scored it 40-36 in favour of the former footballer. The decision was met with boos from the crowd, prompting the former Maroons centre to ask “Who won the Origin?”

In his post-match speech, he said of a potential fight with Gallen: “He’s got a big head, I’ll knock his head off.”

It was hardly a performance that would concern Gallen. The former Sharks captain hinted at retirement after his last fight, a gutsy loss to Kris Terzievski. However, the chance to cash in one more time, in a bout that could be promoted along state lines, may prove hard to resist. Given Gallen knocked out Darcy Lussick and Lussick knocked out Hodges, the “G-Train” would be an overwhelming favourite.

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