Tszyu stops Harrison in 9th, sets up fight vs. undisputed champ Charlo
Also Saturday: Pacheco hammers Cullen and Takam upsets Yoka
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Tim Tszyu not only predicted he would knock out Tony Harrison but he also said he would stop him in the ninth round. That is exactly what he did.
Tszyu used his pressure style and hard right hands as he methodically broke Harrison down before finishing him with a massive onslaught in the ninth round on Showtime on Saturday night (United States time) at Qudos Bank Arena in Tszyu’s hometown of Sydney Australia, where the fight was on pay-per-view on Sunday afternoon.
Tszyu won the vacant WBO interim junior middleweight title but, far more significantly, he assured himself of a mandatory shot at undisputed 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo, who was in a New York studio as part of the Showtime broadcast team.
Tszyu maintained his position as Charlo’s next challenger, but he risked the undisputed title shot against former WBC titleholder Harrison — the only man to defeat Charlo before being knocked out by him in a rematch — because he wanted to avoid a long layoff.
Tszyu (22-0, 16 KOs), 28, and Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs), 32, of Houston, were scheduled to fight Jan. 28 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas but it was canceled after Charlo fractured his left hand in two places during a sparring session.
Harrison (29-4-1, 21 KOs), 32, of Detroit, coming off an 11-month layoff, got off to a good start in the opening round thanks to a steady jab that found a home on Tszyu face often and raised swelling under his left eye. But from then on, Tszyu took control of the fight.
“I was smart. I knew he had a jab so I had to be smart about it,” Tszyu said. “The competitor I had in front me, he’s the man that beat the man, which means I just beat the man who beat the man. What does that make me?”
Tszyu, who is the son of Hall of Fame former undisputed junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu, was much more active and accurate with his punches against Harrison, who went long stretches without doing much of anything.
Tszyu landed his first big shot in the third round when he rocked Harrison with a right hand with a minute left and followed by landing two rights and a left hook in a dominating round.
He pressured Harrison constantly and forced him to fight along the ropes through much of the middle rounds.
Tszyu hurt Harrison with a right hand in the opening moments of the eighth round, after which Harrison’s right eye was marked up,
Having predicted a ninth-round knockout, Tszyu raised his intensity in the round and landed an avalanche of punches.
He hurt Harrison with a left hand and did not stop throwing. He landed a slew of right hands and a right to the body as Harrison sagged into the ropes and continued to take unanswered punishment. After eating four uppercuts and a few other punches, the defenseless Harrison went down to his rear end.
Harrison rose at the count of eight but was shaky when responding to the commands of referee Danrex Tapdasan, who waved it off at 2 minutes, 43 seconds. Harrison, who was down 77-75 on all three scorecards — which seemed generous to him — at the time of the knockout, has been stopped in all four of his defeats, including three times in the ninth round.
“The respect is always there,” Tszyu said of Harrison. “We never bad mouthed each other. We had a bit of banter but we always had respect for each other. In this ring is where we proved to each other and tonight I was the man who proved that I was the better man.”
According to CompuBox statistics, Tszyu landed 131 of 333 punches (39 percent) and Harrison landed 78 of 274 (29 percent). Tszyu outlanded him in every round except the first (12-5). He outlanded him 25-2 during the brutal ninth round and 105-29 in overall power shots.
Harrison had no quarrel with the stoppage.
“I’m cool, man,” Harrison said. “I trained extremely hard for the fight. The better man won tonight. The crowd was electric and, like I said, the better won tonight. That’s all I can say. He’s on to bigger and better things and I don’t know where I go. Tim, congratulations, my boy.”
Tszyu will move on to the fight with Charlo, which is expected to take place this summer in the U.S. and headline a Showtime card.
“He was impressive. He did what he had to do at home,” Charlo said on the Showtime broadcast. “He was a little flat to me. My movement, my style, my power will make him do completely different things.”
He said he did not see anything different from Tszyu from what he had seen in previous fights.
“That’s exactly what we’ve seen — come forward, not as fast or a big pace,” Charlo said. “Strong, of course. Throws hard punches. Don’t we all? But I’m a different animal in there. I’m a different fighter than Tony. Tim is next and that’s what we had before the injury. It’s not like I’m not prepared already.”
Informed that Charlo was watching, Tszyu was asked if he had a message for the champion.
“The message was sent clearly,” Tszyu said, looking into the camera. “You know what’s up. You know what’s next. I’m coming to America.”
Pacheco drills Cullen
Super middleweight Diego Pacheco, ranked as boxing’s fifth-best prospect by Fight Freaks Unite at the end of 2022, made his United Kingdom debut in violent fashion as he blasted out Jack Cullen in the fourth round of the main event of the Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN at M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England.
“I’m really happy with my performance,” Pacheco said. “It’s my job to deliver and I think I did that tonight.”
The card was originally due to be topped by Liverpool’s Callum Smith, a former super middleweight champion and the current WBC mandatory light heavyweight challenger, taking on Pawel Stepien, but an injury forced Smith out of the fight. Rather than cancel the show, Pacheco-Cullen was elevated to main event status and Pacheco shined in the spotlight.
Pacheco (18-0, 15 KOs), a 22-year-old from Los Angeles, won a vacant regional title with relative ease over Cullen (21-4-1, 9 KOs), 29, of England. Pacheco notched his seventh knockout in a row and Cullen has been stopped in each of his losses.
Pacheco predicted before the fight that Cullen would not be able to deal with his power and he was right.
Cullen kept it competitive for the first two rounds as he landed some solid jabs but as soon as Pacheco picked up the pace Cullen was in trouble beginning in the third round when Pacheco nailed him with an uppercut.
In the fourth round, Pacheco dropped Cullen twice. First he pounded him with a right and followed with a left to the body that sent him crumbling to the floor. Cullen was breathing deeply when the fight resumed and Pacheco immediately hit him with two stiff jabs, two right hands and a left hook, and Cullen went down along the ropes as referee Steve Gray stepped in at 47 seconds.
Pacheco said he was happy to travel overseas for the fight and felt no additional pressure.
“I felt the same as every fight. My job is to come here and put on a great performance every time I step into the ring. It doesn’t matter where I fight at,” Pacheco said. “He was really tough. My respect to him for getting up but I knew I was going to take him out in that same round. I wasn’t letting him get away from that.
“I feel ready for anyone in my division and anybody in boxing. I feel like I can compete with anyone. I’m super excited for the future and I’m ready for whoever is next.”
Takam upsets Yoka
Former heavyweight title challenger Carlos Takam, who is 42 and was coming off back-to-back losses, outpointed Tony Yoka in an upset split decision on Saturday at Zenith Paris in Paris.
Takam won 96-94 on two scorecards and Yoka won by a generous 96-94 on the third scorecard.
Yoka (11-2, 9 KOs), 30, the 2016 French Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist, turned in his second extremely disappointing performance in a row. In May, he fell by majority decision to Martin Bakole, who appeared to dominate the fight.
Takam (40-7-1, 28 KOs), a Cameroon native fighting out of France, meantime, finds new life with a major victory following a clear decision loss to Arslanbek Makhmudov in September and by sixth-round knockout to Joe Joyce in July.
But Takam was on his game against Yoka, controlling the action throughout the bout. He was able to get inside on Yoka and tag him repeatedly with body shots and short power punches. Takam cut Yoka over his right eye in the ninth round but Yoka showed no urgency despite being told by trainer Virgil Hunter how badly he needed to win the final few rounds.
In the co-feature, England’s Dan Azeez (19-0, 13 KOs), 33, of England, who is trained by Hall of Famer Buddy McGirt, battered and eventually stopped a bloodied Thomas Faure (21-5-1, 2 KOs), 33, of France, at 50 seconds of the 12th round of a dominating performance to win the vacant European light heavyweight title.
Tszyu-Harrison photos: No Limit Boxing; Pacheco-Cullen photo: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing; Takam-Yoka photo: Lawrence Lustig/Boxxer
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