Tim Tszyu believes he’ll make a statement, for all of Australia to savour, in a risky fight defending his interim challenger status on home soil. Tony Harrison feels the 28-year-old has bitten off more than he can chew. Who will be proven right? We’ll find out this weekend, in an impromptu matchup created by undisputed light-middleweight champion Jermell Charlo’s broken wrist injury.
Tszyu relishes experiencing toughest career test yet
Tim Tszyu (21-0, 12 KOs) vs. Tony Harrison (29-3-1, 21 KOs)
WBO interim world light-middleweight title
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney Olympic Park
Main event ringwalks estimated around 4am, Sunday BST
- Tszyu, who beat Terrell Gausha (UD12, March 2022) despite suffering a first-round knockdown, accepts bigger risk to stay active while declaring Harrison a tougher challenge and better boxer than current titlist Charlo
- “They don’t respect us, think we’re bums, that we’ve got these padded records but it’s not like that. We’ve got great ability, talent and we’re here to shock the world,” he says on historical criticism of Australian boxing
- “I’m just the better boxer. Tim made a mistake taking this – if I see a wrinkle in his armour, it’s going to be an early finish,” Harrison insists after arriving down under on Tuesday, says he’s never felt better before a fight
Tim Tszyu. Back on home soil once more, among familiar surroundings and tasked with a mission: emulate IBF cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia and George Kambosos Jr, who both defied the odds to win world titles in successive years.
Now-former unified lightweight champion Kambosos Jr was a big underdog, but produced a career-best showing against Teofimo Lopez in November 2021.
Eight months later, Opetaia dethroned a long-reigning titlist in Mairis Breidis and has since courted attention from a trio of British boxers keen to do battle before long.
That’s just how the game goes, really. You’re either the hunter or the hunted – and the home favourite doesn’t need telling what’s at stake this weekend.
Tszyu, son of Hall of Fame boxer Kostya Tszyu, made his Stateside debut last March and recovered from his second career knockdown in R1 to outpoint former world title challenger Terrell Gausha (116-111, 115-112, 114-113).
That was impressive, especially after battling early adversity. Harrison doesn’t feel the Australian’s resume earned him the next world title shot, though.
Jermell Charlo’s broken left hand injury was an untimely blow for a division that desperately needs new blood at the top, as I wrote on Christmas Day last year.
We were treated to two firefights between Charlo and now-former unified champion Brian Castano, but how many other thrillers have unfolded nearer the top at 154lbs?
Sebastian Fundora vs. Erickson Lubin stands out, but not much else of late.
Charlo and Harrison have history too: having split a two-fight series, dating back to December 2018 and Dec. 2019 – Harrison won the first meeting, many felt was also leading the rematch before being dropped twice in R11.
He wouldn’t see the final bell, but Tszyu used that history as a significant reason why he rates his upcoming opponent higher than the undisputed champion.
“I think he’s got superior skills: good jab, movement and is hard to hit, slick, always moving. Different type of opponent to anyone I’ve ever faced.
I’m not underestimating him, this is going to be a tough fight – I know that – he’s got better skills than Charlo, beat him and was winning his last fight with him [before the knockout].
But styles make fights, just because you’re [boasting] superior skill, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win all the time, there’s so much in this boxing game.”
Harrison meanwhile, isn’t bothered by fighting on enemy territory and said he wasn’t jet lagged either – going for a 10km run after arriving at his hotel.
“I’m confident anywhere I go, just give me a ring and time. I live for moments like this. If it goes the distance, I’ve trained hard and prepared, will win damn near every round.”
His professional debut came in Germany 12 years ago, with the 32-year-old having since fought both there and Switzerland during a busy start to a successful career.
With the lure of a trilogy bout against Charlo on the cards should he prove victorious, will Super Bad travel back Stateside having spoiled the Aussie party?
Picture source: Getty Images, quote sources hyperlinked via sportingnews.com, news.com.au, theaustralian.com