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Junior middleweight No. 1 contender Tim Tszyu is not going to just sit around waiting for his delayed shot at the injured undisputed champion Jermell Charlo. Instead, Tszyu will next face former titleholder Tony Harrison, the only man to defeat Charlo.
Tszyu and Harrison will square off for the vacant WBO interim junior middleweight title on March 12 at a site to be determined in Tszyu’s home country of Australia, Tszyu promoter George Rose of No Limit Boxing announced on Sunday.
It will be on Saturday night, March 11 in the United States. Though no American broadcaster was announced, Tszyu, the WBO mandatory challenger, made his American debut on Showtime last year and the postponed fight with Charlo was also due to air on the network. Also, Harrison is with Premier Boxing Champions, which is aligned with Showtime.
Tszyu, the son of Hall of Fame former undisputed junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu, was scheduled to challenge Charlo for the undisputed 154-pound crown on Jan. 28 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Tszyu had relocated for training camp in Los Angeles late last year but when Charlo broke his left hand in two places during a sparring session in late December the fight was postponed.
Charlo’s hand was placed in a cast, which he has to wear for two months. Once it is removed, Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs), 32, of Houston, will begin rehabilitation before resuming his training, meaning the fight with Tszyu would be delayed until at least late spring but more likely June or July.
Tszyu (21-0, 15 KOs), 28, only boxed once in 2022, coming to the United States and winning a competitive decision over former world title challenger Terrell Gausha on March 26 in Minneapolis in a fight in which Tszyu got knocked down in the first round. He did not want to have such a protracted layoff while waiting for Charlo to return.
“(Harrison) was the next best available option,” Tszyu said. “I’m at that stage of my career that I really don’t care who is in front of me. I’m ready to take them all out.”
Charlo will be obligated to face Tszyu-Harrison winner upon his return, so Tszyu understands he is risking a shot at all the belts.
“Every fight you take it’s all on the line,” Tszyu said. “You’re one punch away from going back to the very bottom. It’s all on the line and a gamble, but this is what I do. This is boxing, it’s part of my career and I’m a fighter first.”
He added that he was pleased to get the fight in Australia.
“I think Australia is going to erupt,” Tszyu said. “I haven’t fought for almost a year and half in back home and I know it’s going to be the biggest show yet. It’s a massive fight for Australia and a special moment in my career. I have so many passionate fans supporting and following me, so I guess he will feel a certain craziness about the atmosphere in Australia. But his biggest problem he’s running into isn’t the fans, it’s me.”
Before Harrison got the fight, Rose told Fight Freaks Unite that a deal was in place for Tszyu to face Bakhram Murtazaliev, who is also the IBF mandatory challenger but taken multiple step-aside deals from Charlo. Rose said the fight was supposed to be announced last week but Murtazaliev withdrew due to an injury and Harrison, the next fighter in the WBO rankings, accepted the bout this weekend.
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In December 2018, Harrison (29-3-1, 21 KOs), 32, of Detroit, won a disputed unanimous decision over Charlo to take his WBC title. They met in a rematch one year later and Charlo regained the belt by 11th-round knockout and would go on to become undisputed.
Rose said Tszyu will not be looking past Harrison with Charlo waiting for him.
“I visited him in the U.S. for his training camp, so trust me when I tell you he’s ready to take over the world by any means necessary,” Rose said. “He’s in the best shape of his life, fighting back home for the first time since 2021 and hungrier than ever.
“Tim also knows this won’t be a walk in the park. He has a very, very dangerous man in Tony Harrison in front of him. Harrison is the only man in the world to take down the undisputed champ in Jermell Charlo, so it’s a massive risk for him.”
Harrison, who did not fight in 2020, has boxed just twice since the loss. He fought to a 10-round split draw with heavy underdog Bryant Perrella in April 2021 and won a lopsided 10-round decision over Sergio Garcia this past April 9.
Harrison has long wanted to fight Tszyu and always was open to fighting him in Australia, telling reporters last year, “I want to go to Australia. Take me on a vacation. Let me travel across the world and fight somebody that ya'll want me to fight, I'm cool with that. Let me see the kangaroos and rattlesnakes and shit like that. I want that. I want to fight him, but I want to fight him over there.”
Tszyu photo: Esther Lin/Showtime
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Tszyu should win.... but great matchup and will better prepare him when he fights Charlo
Yo, Harrison, we don't have rattlesnakes - except the ones on two legs - here in Australia.
You need an education from Tszyu in and outside of the ring! :)