Tim Tszyu vs Dennis Hogan, Rob Whittaker sparring session

It’s the crossover we by no means knew we wished till we obtained it.

A duo fairly excessive up on the checklist of ‘two individuals you wouldn’t need to begin a battle with’ went toe-to-toe on Tuesday as Tim Tszyu and Rob Whittaker shared the ring.

It was the second time in two weeks that Australia’s No. 1 boxer, Tszyu, and the nation’s first-ever UFC champion, Whittaker, had skilled collectively at Tszyu Boxing Academy in Rockdale.

And whereas there was a bunch of reporters keen to seek out out precisely what occurred, for the 2 fighters, it was extra in regards to the work that occurred behind closed doorways.

“It’s obtained nothing to do with PR for me,” Tszyu mentioned after the session that was shut off to the media.

Watch Tim Tszyu v Dennis Hogan solely on Essential Occasion, out there on Foxtel on Wednesday 31 March at 7pm AEDT. ORDER NOW >

Each males are making ready for upcoming fights — Tszyu on the finish of this month towards Dennis Hogan and Whittaker in April towards the human fridge that’s Paulo Costa — and each are benefiting from working with each other.

“I do consider iron sharpens iron,” Whittaker informed reporters. “So, to get in there along with his velocity, and his reactions, and his presence within the ring, it’s nice to work my eyes, and response speeds, and muscle reminiscence.”

The pair went 5 rounds, with each brawlers sporting a pair bumps and bruises afterwards; Whittaker joking that the trigger “may have been my spouse this morning”.

Nonetheless, Whittaker did higher than the poor bloke who adopted. Foxsports.com.au understands that Tszyu had one other sparring accomplice are available shortly after. He didn’t fare as properly; dropping twice to physique photographs.

Whittaker represents an “unorthodox” puzzle for Tszyu; one that offers him precisely what he wants with a view to put together for his March 31 tremendous welterweight bout on Essential Occasion.

“Aussie fighters [boxers] are like MMA fighters,” Tszyu informed foxsports.com.au. “There’s no boxing faculty right here.

“That’s why we type of want to seek out somebody who’s unorthodox and has obtained such a special model to spar.

“These are the sorts of fighters I’ve been preventing. Dennis Hogan is considered one of them.”

“I undoubtedly suppose I’m the GOAT” | 00:44

After all, for Whittaker, who makes use of boxing as only one weapon in his combined martial arts arsenal, Tszyu is a check he hasn’t actually handled earlier than. One which regardless of the sizeable weight disparity — Whittaker about 15-20kgs heavier — pushes him to his limits.

“His velocity and his presence, his skill to take up the house and at all times be in your face however out of punching vary is a trick in itself,” Whittaker, who labelled Tszyu’s management of house a “reward”, informed foxsports.com.au.

“I get high quality rounds with him and I can solely get higher going up towards him and placing in that work.”

The idea is easy: if Whittaker can combine it with Tszyu’s velocity and motion, then a a lot slower — albeit larger and scarier — Costa needs to be a better process.

In line with Whittaker’s supervisor, Titus Day, the 30-year-old got here into the second session with a way more conventional boxing method; maintaining his arms up as he tried to go away his combined martial arts flavoured hanging exterior the ring.

“The hanging dynamic in MMA is totally totally different to boxing,” Whittaker mentioned.

“You’ll be able to’t battle a boxer. I’m going right into a session like this making an attempt to field. I go away my consolation zone, that’s for sure. However that’s the place individuals begin to rise and excel.”

One of many UFC’s most dynamic strikers, Whittaker is coming off a profitable 2020 — with wins over Darren Until and Jared Cannonier — that has set him up with a “nightmare” problem in Costa, and the potential for an additional middleweight title shot on the opposite finish.

“He’s coming into my workplace, so it’s a bit totally different,” Tszyu, who was impressed with Whittaker’s motion, defined.

“If I used to be to step into his workplace, I’m positive I’d have gotten pumped.”

However at its core, Tszyu added: “If I’m capable of put these boys below strain, think about what I’ll do to somebody my very own weight.”

The choice to work collectively was a mutual one. And for Tszyu, a chance that has solely additional clarified the necessity to head abroad quickly.

“[It’s] beginning to get laborious with sparring companions,” Tszyu mentioned.

Whereas there’s a “few boys” that check the 26-year-old in Australia, he admitted he’d like to return to the US for a bit the place sparring companions — that may push him — are simpler to seek out.

For now, although, a 3rd session is within the works.

“So long as I may give him good rounds, and he provides me nice rounds, that’s all that issues,” Tszyu mentioned.

“We’re each making an attempt to progress in our careers and it’s serving to each of us out.”

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