The undefeated WBO 154-pound champion has enjoyed a banner 2023. Is a super fight on tap for 2024?
One mission accomplished. A bigger one to come?
Tim Tszyu found no gratification in being upgraded from “interim” to full WBO 154-pound titleholder last month. He wanted to prove his championship mettle in the ring, which he did by power punching his way to a one-sided decision over Brian Mendoza in his first defense Sunday in Broadbeach, Australia.
Then he called out the man he has been chasing the past year and a half, three-belt champion Jermell Charlo.
"Charlo, where you at?” Tszyu said after his victory over Mendoza. “Where you at buddy? In his delusional head, he'll probably think he is going to beat me. Come get it."
Charlo would be a significant step up in opposition for Tszyu but Mendoza was no pushover.
The hard-punching Albuquerque fighter was coming off sensational back-to-back knockouts of former champ Jeison Rosario and rising star Sebastian Fundora, victories that lifted him to the brink of elite status.
And Tszyu made him look ordinary.
The son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu faced resistance for half the fight but then wore down his opponent with one punishing blow after another down the stretch, including a number of particularly brutal uppercuts.
The gutsy, durable Mendoza survived to hear the bell to end round 12 but had taken a significant beating by that time, which was a testament to Tszyu’s destructive power.
Tszyu (24-0, 17 KOs) has a long way to go to match the resume of his father, who was one of the top fighters of the 1990s and early 2000s. Kostya Tszyu was a two-time 140-pound champ with victories over the likes of Roger Mayweather, Julio Cesar Chavez and Zab Judah.
However, the younger Tszyu is making it clear that he too is a special fighter, one who could one day be regarded as the greatest boxing son of a Hall of Famer.
Tim Tszyu doesn’t do any specific thing extraordinarily well but his all-around ability – combined with his fighting spirit and durability – makes him an extraordinary fighter, as Terrell Gausha, Tony Harrison and Mendoza (22-3, 16 KOs) learned the hard way.
Of course, Charlo might have something to say about how good Tszyu is.
The longtime king of the 154-pound division chose to challenge 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez on Sept. 30 instead of Tszyu, as originally planned, and lost by decision. Afterward, Charlo said he plans to move back down to 154, which could set up a clash with Tszyu.
Would Tszyu win that fight? Well, the setback against the bigger Alvarez aside, Charlo brings better tools – skills, speed, power – into the ring than any of Tszyu’s previous opponents. The Texan would probably be favored by the oddsmakers.
That said, anyone paying attention over the past two years would give Tszyu a good chance of delivering what would be a defining victory. It’s becoming more and more clear that he could compete with anyone.
Indeed, Tim Tszyu is no longer just the offspring of a great fighter.
Tszyu isn’t the only Aussie to have seized our attention.
Super bantamweight contender Sam Goodman (16-0, 7 KOs) made waves by outpointing previously unbeaten Ra’eese Aleem on the Tszyu-Carlos Ocampo card in June, which was his coming out as a legitimate contender.
And he was at it again on the Tszyu-Mendoza, this time showing off his impressive skills in a dominating, near-shutout decision over veteran Miguel Flores (25-5-1, 12 KOs).
The next time we see him he could be fighting for his first major title, as he’s ranked No. 1 by both the IBF and WBO. And he’s thinking big in terms of his champion of choice: Naoya Inoue, the pound-for-pounder and WBO beltholder.
We’ll see whether Goodman has what it takes to cope with the unbeaten “Monster.” But you have to admire his confidence. And it’s easy to see why he believes in himself. He can box.
For a closer look at Tszyu vs Mendoza, check out our fight night page.