When Australia’s new boxing hope Tim Tszyu steps in the ring tonight, his champion father Kostya may not even be watching.
Despite the comparisons between Tim, 25, and his world title winning dad, they have never had much of a relationship since he returned to Russia.
It is still not clear if Kostya will even watch his son’s fight with Jeff Horn, 32.
‘Do you know what, that is the question,’ his ex-wife Natalia told Daily Mail Australia.
Kostya split from Natalia in 2012, left her with three kids and headed home to Russia, where he has now built a businesses empire, re-married and had two more children.
But Natalia – who still uses the last name Tszyu – said if her ex-husband is to view his son’s fight it will be done over a video call, with the camera turned towards the TV.
‘If he’s able to watch Tim’s fight it can only be done if we do a livestream from here in Sydney and we can WhatsApp or FaceTime him. That’s the only way he can watch it.’
‘Kostya was here for only one of Tim’s fights, for the others we have done that which the promoter said is illegal but it is his father, he needs to know what is happening with his fights.
‘Kostya was never in the kids life, Kostya disappeared from the kids’ life when he left them at a young age. The kids have built their lives without their father.
‘I know that some people won’t want to hear this, but this is the truth.’
With the Soviet Union collapsing, Kostya and Natalia moved to Australia from Russia in 1992 with one goal in mind – for the boxing prodigy to become a world champion.
After marrying they settled in Sydney, where they had visited a year earlier for the world amateur boxing championships.
Then they got to work.
Kostya retired in 2005 after a decade as light-welterweight champion, when he took his family back to his homeland.
At the time Tim was in his late-teens and close to finishing high school, with his mum deciding her two sons and daughter needed to be in Australia.
Natalia and Kostya literally shook hands and moved on. It was like a business deal.
‘Between me and my ex-partner we had a goal. We came from Russia together in 1992 only for one reason – for him to become a world champion,’ Mrs Tszyu said.
‘It was a relationship, it was marriage, but at the same time, it was 99 per cent a business transaction.
‘Once Kostya was retired from boxing and he had finished his last fight, we put all the cards on the table to see what we were going to do.
‘We lived for six months in Moscow… but I’m a mother, my kids were born in Australia and my kids belong to this country, so we went back to Sydney.
‘And then one day Kostya said: “OK, I can’t live in Australia anymore, I have to go back to Russia”. So we shook hands and I said “good luck”, and he said “good luck” to me.
‘I still talk to him but not much. He has disappeared from Australia, he has set himself up in Moscow and he is remarried with two kids. He lives his own life.’
At the time of their separation Mrs Tszyu shocked many when she refused to criticise her husband, telling one newspaper ‘men should be men’.
‘If my husband wants to stay in Russia, let him stay there. It is an important life for him. He is an important man there and he is where he belongs,’ she said.
Kostya and his second wife Tatiana Averina, a former model and PR executive, run a successful restaurant named Lodka in the heart of Moscow.
Mrs Tszyu insists there was love at one point in the marriage, but is adamant she did the right thing for her kids by settling in Australia.
It has allowed her to build a successful career in real estate, for her children to finish school and for Tim to become a boxing champion – although she never wanted him to do so.
‘I’m one of the parents who was against my son boxing, because in my lifetime I have seen so much blood, so much pain,’ the mother-of-three said.
‘Boxing is not jumping into the ring, boxing is hard training and a lot of preparation, I don’t want my son to go through this.
‘You can’t compare him to Kostya because it is two different things, but he was born with boxing gloves.
‘Boxing was breakfast, lunch and dinner.
‘At the end of the day, I was one of the people that didn’t want Tim to fight, but when I saw him start going to the gym I supported him.’
Mrs Tszyu will be joined by her daughter Anastasia, son Nikita and 100 friends at the Aqua Luna function centre in Drummoyne to watch the fight on a big screen tonight.
The last time she spoke to her son he was in good spirits.
Considering the upbringing in what his mother described as ‘like a strict army family’ this mother has no doubt Tim has done all the work necessary to secure the win.
‘Unfortunately I can’t fly to Brisbane, so I’m going to be watching the fight here with my fingers crossed,’ Mrs Tszyu said.
‘I would say Kostya is a Russian product but I would say Tim is born in Australia, and he is proud to say he is Australian.
‘I don’t have much family here, I only have my three kids and the rest is all Australian people who have been supporting us.
‘They supported us the first time when Kostya was fighting and they are supporting us the second time with Tim fighting. That is our family, Australia.’