Dylan Biggs prepares to face Nikita Tszyu: ‘With the name comes all the burden as well’
In recent years, Thailand has become a popular location for professional boxers to hold their training camps. Over the last three weeks, Australian junior middleweight Dylan Biggs(10-0, 7 KOs) and his trainer, Justin O’Leary, have been stationed in Pattaya, a city on Thailand’s eastern Gulf coast. Biggs is preparing for one of the biggest fights of his career against Nikita Tszyu (7-0, 6 KOs), in which he will defend his Australian 154-pound title. I had the privilege of observing a sparring session during the final part of Biggs’ training camp before he returns home to finish his preparations.
I arrived at Eagle Gym, owned by former WBC strawweight champion Den Junlaphan, the facility where Team Biggs has been based during their time in Thailand. There, I was greeted by the three sparring partners assigned for the job and their coach, David John Treharne. They informed me that Biggs would be arriving shortly for their morning sparring session. The southpaw sparring partners for the past three weeks have been Tae Kyun Kim (8-1-1) of South Korea, Ador Torres (10-4-1) of the Philippines and Florent Dervis (8-0) of France.
A focused-looking Biggs entered the gym with O’Leary. Fighters of this caliber have a certain presence about them; they don’t need introductions. Their demeanor makes it clear they mean business.
Dylan Biggs, from Beaudesert, Queensland, Australia, is currently undefeated as a professional and is facing the most important moment in his pro career thus far. Now just 21 years old, he started boxing at the age of 11 due to his behavior. “I was a very hyperactive kid growing up,” explained Biggs. “I needed a way to expend my energy. I was also a bit of a big mouth, so my parents decided to put me into boxing.” It’s worth noting that O’Leary is Biggs’ first-ever boxing coach and has guided his transition from the amateurs to the professional ranks. Biggs also boasts an extensive amateur background, with 88 fights to his name. He participated in the nationals three times, won once, and even took on adult competitors at the elite Olympic trials when he was just 17. He also has international experience, having fought in Poland, Czech Republic, New Caledonia and Germany as an amateur. It has been a busy and active year for Biggs, with the fight against Tszyu marking his fourth this year.
Nikita Tszyu (7-0 6 KOs) is the son of former undisputed junior welterweight champion and hall of famer Kostya Tszyu. Also known as “The Butcher,” Nikita is currently undefeated in seven fights, with six knockouts. He, too, has had an active year, with three fights under his belt. In his last bout, he stopped Jack Brubaker (17-5-2, 8 KOs) in the sixth round. Brubaker previously shared the ring with Tszyu’s older brother, Tim Tszyu (24-0, 17 KOs), in 2019, when they fought for the IBF Australasian and WBO Global junior middleweight titles.
Nikita’s early pro career has seen him matched with undefeated prospects, stopping them in their tracks. He is now ranked 44th in the world by BoxRec. When asked if this is the biggest fight of his career, Biggs responded, “Media coverage-wise, yes. I’m yet to see Nikita against high-class opponents, so I can’t judge his skills yet. He is rated, and he is a good opponent, but I have had some wars with good opponents, so I’m ready for whatever he has to throw at me. With the name comes all the burden as well.”
Biggs looks to be in excellent shape ahead of his fight. Sparring partner Kim told me that Biggs is strong and punches hard. When I asked Biggs about how training in Thailand has been going, he jokingly said, “It sucks,” as both he and his trainer laughed. He continued, “It provides all the right conditions that a training camp needs: the heat to lose weight, the heat and humidity to build mental toughness and fitness. If you’re fit over here, then you’re fit anywhere. The people are also very accommodating, and we can come to places like this to get away from the media, find some peace and quiet, and escape the distractions and politics of boxing. It’s perfect.”
O’Leary has been teaching boxing to kids for 25 years. Biggs is the first one who turned professional under his guidance. I asked the trainer for his opinion on the fight, and he said, “There’s a lot of pressure on him (Tszyu), because he is carrying that name. The Tszyu name in Australia is big. I think our advantage is that Dylan is very confident and truly believes he will win. Training has been good; it’s hard being away from home, as we both have kids and family, but sacrifices are part of it. We have good sparring partners, a strong team supporting us, and the locals have been brilliant.”
The Dylan Biggs vs. Nikita Tszyu fight is scheduled to take place at the Newcastle Entertainment Center in Broadmeadow, Australia. It will be promoted by No Limits Promotion. This matchup promises to be highly entertaining, as both boxers are rising prospects with knockout power. It’s a classic prospect vs. prospect crossroads battle, precisely what the world of boxing needs.