Dethroned Australian boxing king Jeff Horn showed all the hallmarks of a true champion, despite being thoroughly outclassed against Tim Tszyu on Wednesday night.
Tszyu announced himself as Australia's next boxing force, impressively navigating his greatest test to stop Horn after eight rounds in Townsville.
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The dominant super-welterweight win extend Tszyu's career unbeaten streak to 16, the latest coming on the biggest stage yet at a rowdy Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Wednesday night.
The comprehensive nature of the victory marked a real changing of the guard in Australian boxing - a fact that Horn openly acknowledged in an act of superb sportsmanship after the fight.
Horn was quick to congratulate his young opponent, before calling on the country to get behind a fighter gunning to be Australia's next boxing world champion.
“Tim was young, hungry. He’s an absolute champion I can’t put anything past him. He’s an absolute legend,” Horn said.
“Hopefully all of Australia can support him, he now is the number one in Australia, he wasn’t before this even though he kept saying he was but he has certainly earnt it now.
“An absolute champion and he can fly that flag very proudly for Australia.
“He’s very good and look he was on his game tonight, I probably wasn’t on my game but that’s a credit to him for outboxing me out there and I guess he’s got that young blood.
“Not that I’m old, everyone is going to say I’m old, but Tim’s got that hunger about him. I’ve been there and done that, Tim was very hungry for that win and I could feel it through him tonight and he’s got that champion spirit in him I could feel that.”
Horn's stunning praise came while he questioned his own future in the sport, with the former world champion choking back tears talking about heading home to his wife and kids.
“It’s time to go home and give the girls a cuddle. Hey Jo, Isabelle and Charlotte at home. I’ll give them all a big kiss and hug tomorrow,” an emotional Horn said.
In previous fights Horn's face has been left battered and bloodied but it was Tszyu's brutal body shots that did much of the damage on Wednesday night.
“Look I’m so glad that I’m not cut I’m very thankful for that. Tim gave me some very good body shots instead of the head so well done, they didn’t feel very nice,” Horn said.
“Well done to him, some great head shots and even better body shots, all the best to him.”
Horn left to weigh up boxing future
Horn didn't officially call time on his career after the loss, but knows it will be difficult for him to convince his wife and two daughters that the best decision is to fight on after his third loss from his last five bouts.
"I'll go home and talk to Jo but I know what she's going to say," he said.
"In the end, I have to ask if I have more in the tank or is that it.
"I probably don't have the hunger of Tim Tszyu. I've been there, done the world title, I was just fighting for the big fights and the mountain was too big for me tonight."
With the son of former world champion Kostya stepping out of his father's shadow, Horn's promoter Dean Lonergan suggested the time was right to move aside.
"I think tonight would be a nice full stop," Lonergan said of the 32-year-old's career.
"The baton I think's been passed.
"We always thought if we can't beat Tim Tszyu should we go on? The answer is probably not.
"My ambitions for Jeff Horn were to go out healthy and wealthy and right now I think he can achieve both those things.
"He's going to have his dad and wife have a serious chat to him and they can look in the mirror and say 'we had a hell of a ride'."