TIM Tszyu hopes a packed-out Newcastle Entertainment Centre will be dominated by his fans as the 26-year-old boxer looks to account for Dennis Hogan at a place he now says "feels like home".
Tszyu, who came face to face with his opponent at a Honeysuckle press conference on Monday, reckons the "support here has been amazing" since arriving last week ahead of the highly-anticipated bout on Wednesday night.
It will be Tszyu's first fight in Newcastle but he follows in the footsteps of his famed father Kostya, who was undefeated in seven events in the same city during the 1990s.
"The support here has been amazing," Tszyu told the Newcastle Herald.
"The Newcastle fans have really backed me and got behind me and welcomed me as their home boy, that's the main thing for me."
In terms of the crowd, edging towards a COVID-relaxed capacity in excess of 5000, he says: "I'm hoping it's all Tszyu fans".
Kostya won't be ringside but Tszyu's grandfather, Novocastrian manager Glen Jennings and other staff will be in his corner.
Tszyu, who has been training at Steel City Gym as well as running along the Foreshore and Newcastle's "beautiful" beaches, replied to an earlier jibe from Hogan's camp that the upcoming battle was simply a "warm-up" for the Brisbane-based Irishman.
"It means they are underestimating me. Not a good idea," Tszyu said after the press conference.
During the formalities at Newcastle Museum, also attended by boxers on the undercard, Tszyu said: "It's not going to be no warm-up fight, that's for sure".
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Hogan, aged 36 and nicknamed the "Hurricane", landed in Newcastle on Sunday and escaped newly imposed coronavirus restrictions in the Queensland capital.
"Which is just in time because Brisbane goes into lockdown at 6pm tonight [Monday]," Hogan told the Newcastle Herald.
Hogan, who has a 28-3 career record, reckons he's ready for the challenge of Tszyu.
"You want to be the best, you've got to beat everyone on the way up," he said.
"He's ranked No.1 in the world right now and I'm here to take that No.1.
"I was No.1 in the world for the best part of 18 months back around 2018 to 2019 and it feels familiar to me and I'm looking forward to getting it back again."
Having lost his most recent outings, both in 2019, Hogan is keen to "get back in the winner's circle" at the Broadmeadow venue.
"It would be absolutely fantastic," he said.
"I lost my last one for the WBC middleweight title, so just to get back in the winner's circle again will be a great feeling.
"I've done a lot of hard work and I am ready for this, I really am."
Tszyu, who sits 17-0 featuring wins last year over fellow Aussie Jeff Horn and New Zealand's Bowyn Morgan, says he has a healthy respect for Hogan.
"I'm expecting the best Dennis Hogan," he said.
"He's a great fighter ... my full respect to him ... but look, when you get in the ring this is my ring, you're in my world and I'm not going to let anyone out."
Tszyu wants to ensure he gets the job done.
"It's going to be a tough fight," he said.
"I don't make fights easy. When I get in the ring I'm not there to tip and tap and run around and jab and throw a few overheads. I'm here to hurt my opponents."
Tszyu said he "couldn't care less" about contract complaints and conjecture around Hogan's recent announcement regarding a broken nose suffered at training.
The rivals will have official weigh-ins on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Eleebana-based Sakio Bika and Sam Soliman headline the Steel City Showdown undercard in what will mark a third meeting between the former world champions.
Hunter-bred Tyson Lantry goes toe-to-toe with Paul Fleming, Wade Ryan versus Koen Mazoudier while in the women's ranks Linn Sandstrom takes on Felicity Loiterton.
A limited amount of tickets remain available via Ticketek.
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