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The narrative surrounding every great boxer’s quest for greatness is almost always linked to another fighter. But when that fighter is your father, the mission becomes clouded by debate and indefinable comparisons.

Tim Tszyu takes his next step to a world title shot when he takes on Takeshi Inoue in Sydney tonight but the lingering question about the star’s legacy and his place in the sport’s history will only intensify as he moves onto the next phase of his career.

Tszyu joins a long a list of athletes looking to emulate the success of their parents/family members in their chosen sport.

Stephen Curry. Mick Schumacher. LeBron James Jr. The list goes on. In boxing, it’s even more telling with the likes of Floyd Mayweather, James “Buster” Douglas, Shane Mosley Jr, Evan Holyfield, Chris Eubank Jr, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and more recently Nico Ali Walsh to name a small sample, all donning the gloves in the squared circle to continue a family tradition in the ring.

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It’s a tough gig though. While a famous last name is a promoter’s dream and in many instances holds the key to a fat cheque, it also brings in a different type of audience, drawn in on a tabloid level. With that comes more eyes, critics and pressure and a different type of celebrity outside the sporting landscape.

While the comparison to Kostya is unfair in many respects, with father and son coming from completely different circumstances, the undying question remains – will he ever surpass his father’s greatness?

“I’ll make a big statement, this kid could be better,” boxing great Jeff Fenech told Wide World of Sports.

“Kostya is maybe a bigger puncher. They do things very similar. But for me in some things, Tim is every bit as good if not better than his dad. He’s getting better and better.”

Kostya Tszyu became a world champion by the age of 25 having won everything from bronze to gold at European and world championship level as an amateur, with a career record standing at 259-11. Between 2001 and 2005, he was the undisputed light welterweight champion and was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011.

Tim amassed an amateur boxing record of 33–1 before turning professional in 2016 at the age of 22. His only loss was to Olympian Daniel Lewis.

While Tim went through Australian opponents for his entire career, Kostya came through the highly competitive European system before settling Down Under. Kostya won gold at the 1991 world championships in Australia and was tipped to take out gold at the Barcelona Olympics a year later.

But he decided to shun the 1992 Games in favour of turning professional, rejecting offers from local Russian promoters to sign with Aussie Bill Mordey and trainer Johnny Lewis.

“Medals don’t pay bills,” Kostya told the ABC at the time when asked why he wouldn’t wait a year to turn pro.

Rather than point out where they differ, Fenech believes the paying public will only have positive comparisons to draw upon once the big fights for Tszyu roll around.

“He’s got his father’s poise. His patience. That’s something you can’t teach. It’s about having that awareness in the ring. No doubt his father has helped shape the fighter he is but Tim is his own fighter. Plus they look like f—ing twins,” Fenech said.

“He knows when he’s in danger and knows what to do get himself out of trouble. Watching his father as a boy would have helped.”

Fenech admits there was some doubt among Australia’s boxing fraternity when Tszyu turned pro in 2016, but Tim has progressively improved every year and is ready to travel overseas and match it with the best in the world, he says.

While critics will point to the difference in power as a defining factor between father and son, Fenech contends it has the potential to make Tim a better all round boxer.

“He doesn’t punch like his dad. When you don’t punch like that and stand there and trade, he’s got to do other things. And he’s doing that really well I’m very very impressed,” Fenech said.

Speaking before his professional boxing debut in 2016, Tszyu admitted his father’s influence will undoubtedly shine through, but he will transform into his own fighter in time.

“The thing is you can’t copy someone else, you have to create your own style,” Tszyu said.

“But the teachings of the father have come into my style, people will see it.”

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