Tim Tszyu loves Newcastle – and it seems the former steel city feels the same way about the boxing super welterweight champion.
Tickets for his long-awaited bout with Michael Zerafa, to take place at the newly-named Tszyucastle Entertainment Centre on 7 July, sold out within 24 hours of being released to the public.
While promoters are hoping to add a handful more in the near future, the son of the legendary Kostya was humbled by the gesture to retitle the venue for one of the most highly-anticipated events in the history of the sport within the country.
Tszyu last fought in March, defeating Irishman Dennis Hogan to retain a perfect 18-0 record with 14 knockouts.
“It’s a bit overwhelming to be honest,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.
“But, I’m also proud of the fact.
“The atmosphere was insane when I recently fought here.
“My dad had a lot of success in Newcastle, too.
“So, I have a genuine affection for the city.”
His opponent, who boasts a 28-4 win-loss statistic himself, was undaunted by the surprise unveiling of the Tszyucastle Entertainment Centre.
“Who knows, they might have to change it,” said Zerafa, who hammered Anthony Mundine a couple of months ago.
“I’ve been waiting for this for almost two years – I wish it [the fight] was tonight.”
Promoter and ex-NRL star George Rose credited both Tszyu and Zerafa for the outstanding response to the showdown.
“It’s amazing,” the No Limit Boxing CEO said.
“The first time we came to Newcastle and had the fight sell out in eight days, I thought that was really impressive.
“However, for this to happen in 24 hours shows Novocastrians can’t get enough of the sport.
“And, it’s a credit to these boys, too – they are two of the best boxers in Australia.”