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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tszyu Retains Title With 4 Knockdowns

APRussian-born boxer Kostya Tszyu giving the No. 1 sign after knocking out Sharmba Mitchell in the third round of their IBF junior welterweight title fight on Saturday.
GLENDALE, Arizona -- Kostya Tszyu was soft-spoken before his rematch with Sharmba Mitchell and the same way after.

"I don't like to talk," the IBF junior welterweight champion said after demolishing Mitchell in less than three rounds of their long-awaited rematch Saturday night. "What I do in the ring speaks for me."

That was certainly true this time.

Tszyu (31-1) knocked Mitchell down four times -- three in the third round.

The last time, the relentless native of a Russian steel-mill city dropped Mitchell to his knees with two combinations, then a right hand, two lefts and a right before referee Raul Caiz stepped in at the 2:48 mark.

Tszyu was credited with a seven-round technical knockout of Mitchell (55-4) when they fought on Feb. 3, 2001. But that was because Mitchell had to retire after reinjuring his left knee.

This time, Tszyu, a former champion of all three major divisions, left no question about his supremacy at 140 pounds, getting his 25th knockout and improving to 15-1 in world championship bouts.

"I had a weird and eerie feeling last night that he was going to put on the performance of his life, and he surely did," Tszyu promoter Vlad Warton said.

The fight was years in the making.

Tszyu, who held the WBC crown, took Mitchell's WBA title in their first match. Then Mitchell had surgery and was out of the ring for 13 months.

In the meantime, Tszyu went on to unify the weight class by knocking out Zab Judah for the IBF belt three years ago before running into his own set of medical problems.

While Mitchell went on an eight-bout winning streak, Tszyu defended his triple crowns just twice --the last time against James Leija on Jan. 19, 2003. But Tszyu tore an Achilles' tendon eight months later -- just before his scheduled rematch with Mitchell in Moscow -- and then tore a shoulder tendon in January training for Mitchell again.

Tszyu's inactivity cost him the WBC and WBA titles.

The IBF gave him a medical exemption, but after the shoulder injury, it also set up an interim title bout between Mitchell and Lovemore N'Dou on Feb. 7. Mitchell won a unanimous decision and would have become the IBF champion if Tszyu hadn't fought him.

"I appreciate that he gave me a second chance," Mitchell said. "He came out victorious tonight, but I will move up and fight again."

Tszyu hastened the retirement of six-time world champion Julio Cesar Chavez by knocking Chavez out in Phoenix in July 2000. Over four years later, Tszyu was roundly booed at the start of this bout.

But the crowd came around to cheer him for his artistry.

Tszyu, traditionally a slow starter, showed no rust after nearly two years away. Enraged by a head butt that bloodied his nose in the first round, the 35-year-old Tszyu backed Mitchell into the ropes and hit him with a hard right that dropped him to all fours late in the second.

The third had barely begun when Tszyu put Mitchell, 34, on his back with a straight right. The next knockdown, he drove Mitchell into the ropes with combinations, foreshadowing the decisive fourth trip to the canvas for the challenger.