When Gunnedah’s Wade Ryan stepped in the ring with the current World Boxing Organisation (WBO) mandatory challenger, Tim Tszyu, he became the first opponent to properly test one of Australia’s rising boxing superstars.

Although succumbing to a unanimous decision loss in 2017, the 31-year-old Ryan (the Boogeyman) gave Tszyu a “wake-up call” when he dropped the now 25-year-old in the opening round and on reflection, Ryan admitted he didn’t take advantage of the situation. 

In preparation for his upcoming bout at the newly appointed venue – the Qudos Bank Arena – the Boogeyman travels to the Bondi Boxing Club in Sydney on the weekend, where Tszyu is also training.

Following a tough sparring session with Queensland boxer, Benjamin Hussain, Tszyu spoke to the Gunnedah Times, giving an insight into his victory over Ryan and the lessons learned during their meeting.

“He was my toughest opponent to date, he has an awkward style,” Tszyu said.

“Wade gave me a reality check, I hadn’t really been touched before fighting him, I was breezing through the professional ranks and then he came and sort of woke me up.

“Boxing – it’s not easy, it’s a hard sport, so I learned a lot in that fight.”

Tszyu is preparing for what should be another tough task on November 17, against Japanese super-welterweight, Takeshi Inoue, who is hoping to spoil the 25-year-old’s mandatory status. It is a risky move from the Australian who could have easily waited on the sidelines until WBO champion, Brian Castaño, was forced by the organisation to sign a fight deal.

Tszyu is looking to stay active and after missing out on fighting former world champion, Tony Harrison, it gives Inoue the opportunity to jump from seventh on the WBO rankings, to a possible world title shot.

Ryan will also feature on the card, but it won’t be against the original opponent in Ben Mahoney from Queensland. Following No Limit’s announcement to move the fight card from the Gold Coast to Sydney, Mahoney was unwilling to travel in what was one of the biggest challenges of his undefeated career.

While the Boogeyman had already planned on quarantining for two weeks in Queensland, when the roles were reversed, Mahoney made it clear he did not want to fight in 

Less than five weeks out from the fight, Ryan, his trainer David (Spike) Syphers and the team at No Limit are looking at possible replacements.

A world-class international opponent is in the pipeline to face Ryan in a 10-round bout and Syphers discussed his disappointment with Mahoney’s decision to pull out of the bout.

“It’s frustrating but this happens and it obviously shows he didn’t believe he was up to Wade’s level,” Syphers said.

“He gave up a great opportunity, Wade’s next step is a world title, so if he believed in himself, he wouldn’t have pulled out.

“It’s actually opened up more doors and being able to fight an international boxer can prove exactly why Wade deserves to be in this position.”

As No Limit Boxing works towards finalising a visa for Ryan’s opponent, news surfaced last week, indicating Ryan has moved to 49 on the International Boxing Organisation (IBO) rankings. It makes the Gunnedah boxer eligible for a shot at the now-vacant world title, which was held by Cuban native, Erislandy Lara.

Tszyu was asked whether he believes Ryan can make the next step in his career and secure a world title.

“Of course he can, anyone can win anything if they put their mind to it,” Tszyu said.

“From what I’ve seen with Wade, he’s grinding it out, he’s working hard, so anything’s possible.

“His improvement over the years has been extraordinary and you can see that in his last two fights. He’s not just been winning, but he’s been dominating and doing it in front of a big audience.

“He deserves it and he’s on the cusp of winning an IBO title, I think it might take two fights to get that chance. That’s massive, especially for a bloke like Wade Ryan, he’s earned it.”

That is high praise from what many argue is Australia’s best boxing prospect and despite a rematch not being on the cards just yet, the pair could meet in the future. 

It all depends on whether Ryan and Tszyu can secure a world championship with an all-Australian super-welterweight unification bout a real possibility.

Granted that Tszyu defeats Inoue next month, his world title opportunity is already set in stone. As for Ryan, Syphers understands “he’s already in a position to challenge for a world title” and having trained together for more than a decade, he has full belief in the Boogeyman’s ability to become champion.

He added: “We’ve worked hard for a long time and for it to finally be in the picture is rewarding.

“When we started out, we didn’t expect to be in this position, but we always aimed to reach the top.

“Wade had the ability, but it was important to get the best out of him and to be honest, we’ve brought the best out of each other.”

The clock continues to count down towards November 17, as Ryan and Syphers continue their training as normal, awaiting confirmation on the eventual challenger for the IBO title.

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