Like father, like son -- Tim Tszyu wants multiple titles, Hall of Fame nod

Tim Tszyu is the son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, but the young fighter wants to make his own name in boxing. Julian Andrews/Getty Images

Don't lose your head. Stick with the jab. Use your defense. It sounds like advice any good boxing trainer would serve up before his charge slides between the ropes. For junior middleweight Tim Tszyu, 23, though, it's far more than that. For not only is it the advice of a former undisputed world champion, but also that of his dad, Kostya.

"The biggest piece of advice is never, ever give up, no matter how hard things get, not just in boxing, but in life," Tim Tszyu tells ESPN. "No matter how hard life hits you, to never give up, stand on your feet, and to fight your way through everything."

And Tim Tszyu is doing just that. As he prepares to don the gloves in his 11th professional bout, one that will be streamed live in the United States, Tszyu won't be distracted from his ultimate goal: being a multiple world champion who one day is inducted into the Hall of Fame.

And he hopes the international exposure can help him reach those lofty heights.

If the world title-Hall of Fame double sounds familiar, it's because it's exactly what his father achieved in a storied professional career. Running up 31 wins from 34 fights, Kostya Tszyu was the undisputed junior welterweight champion between 2001 and 2005.

But Tim Tszyu is very much his own man, too. Exposed to boxing at a young age, Tszyu would train alongside his father while other kids would be out making the most of their school holidays. But as he grew older, so too did the desire to try other things.

"No, never. Dad never put any pressure [on me]; I don't think my parents wanted me to fight," Tim Tszyu says. "At first I got into gymnastics, and then I got into soccer; then I was an amateur boxer, and then I went into uni [university.] And then when I gave my dad the call that I'd started to turn professional, my dad gave me the support.

"Not many people have the opportunity to fight in front of TV; to be headlining it is something special. So it's big for me, because hopefully one day I get to the international level and fight for the world title. Everything's baby steps towards that." Tim Tszyu

"I am my own man at the end of the day. I don't like getting told what to do; so when I told my dad, he was fully supportive. He said it's a hard, long road ahead of you, but you've got my 100 percent support."

There was a stint in Russia through his teenage years, too. When the Tszyu family returned to the land of their father's birth, Tim went right into his soccer. He recalls a training session with Russian giants CSKA Moscow with fondness.

But having found his way back to boxing, negotiating a broken wrist in the process, it was time to step into the ring professionally.

"It was quite intense. I didn't know what to expect," Tszyu recalls of the lead-up to his first professional fight in December 2016. "But again, everything's experience. The more you get used to it, the more you get addicted, the more you enjoy the feeling ... from the gloves, you can feel the knuckles inside, the physicality of the training; everything changes [when you turn professional].

"It's like you're running a marathon and you're running little sprints. That's the sport [boxing] that you're playing. And professional sport is a much, much tougher game than amateurs."

Ten fights later, Tszyu has a perfect record that includes eight KO victories. Saturday night's showdown against Argentine veteran Marcos Jesus Cornejo, in Bendigo, a regional city two hours' drive northwest of Melbourne, represents a step up, though, with the 37-year-old stung by two consecutive defeats. Before that, Cornejo's record stood at 19-1, with 18 by KO.

"Just stick to the game plan. Me and my trainer have figured out what to do," Tszyu says of the bout with Cornejo. "I've been training hard. I haven't stopped. I'm so consistent with everything, and hopefully all the hard work and everything I've put in at the gym will show on the night."

Tszyu also hopes that while Americans are enjoying "Breakfast and Bouts" on ESPN+ from 7 a.m. ET, they will recognize not only the famous name but more so the ability he has in the ring himself. In pursuit of his own world title, it's all about stepping stones.

"It's [the broadcast] great exposure, it's great to have ESPN+ [and] Top Rank getting involved," Tszyu says. "Not many people have the opportunity to fight in front of TV; to be headlining it is something special. So it's big for me, because hopefully one day I get to the international level and fight for the world title. Everything's baby steps towards that."

His other passion is to help restore boxing to its glory days. The sport was thrust into the limelight Down Under midway through last year, when Jeff Horn upset the great Manny Pacquiao in front of 50,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium. Tszyu would love to put on a similarly grand show one day himself.

"There's the world title dream, then there's multiple world titles and then there's what not many in the sport have ever done and go from multiple world titles to multiple division world titles," Tszyu says.

"The ultimate goal would be to be in the Hall of Fame; that would be the ultimate, ultimate, ultimate goal, I think, for any aspiring fighter.

"But my goal is to become a world champion, to represent Australia and Russia, and bring entertainment back into the sport -- and just bring the sport back to life, because this sport has been alive for so long."