After sitting out most of 2022 after his victory over Terrell Guasha, Tim Tszyu was scheduled to face then-undisputed junior welterweight champion, Jermell Charlo, at the beginning of this year. But as Charlo pulled out of that contest, a decision was made by Tszyu and his handlers.
They would not wait around for Charlo, instead, they would do something that is foreign to the modern day boxer.
Tsyzu would get active, and sharpen his skills. Instead of just waiting and whining for a big fight, he would become the sharpest version of himself.
And this past weekend he completed a year that saw him defeat Tony Harrison (TKO9), Brian O'Campo (KO1) and now Brian Mendoza (W12). There is no blade that is as sharp in this division as the son of Kostya.
Having three fights in a seven month stretch doesn't exactly make you Henry Armstrong or Archie Moore, but by today's standards, it is a remarkable achievement that should be appreciated.
The rugged and game Mendoza provided Tszyu (24-0, 17 KOs) with his toughest test at the Gold Coast Convention Center in Australia. The first half of this contest was a nip-and-tuck affair. It was clear that unlike his previous two outings, Tszyu would have to really work for this one. But over the second half of the contest he steadily wore down Mendoza with a consistent and measured offensive attack.
The seasoning he got in this fight is invaluable. It's the type of experience that every boxer needs.
“Man, he’s tough,” Tszyu said of Mendoza. “He’s crafty. He’s slick. He has power. He’s world class for a reason. He’s just behind me. I wanted to have some fun (tonight), perform for everyone. It’s my last hurrah. We finished up with a little bang. Hopefully we can all go to Vegas together. I’ve got a pack of lions with me, every single person in Australia. The support here has been unreal. Thanks to all the day-ones. See you all in Vegas.”
There's no doubt that Tszyu believes he is now ready for bigger and better things. While he's now the WBO belt-holder at 154, it is the aforementioned Charlo that is still the recognized champion in the division. (Ring Magazine has Charlo as their champ, with Tsyzu rated as the top contender.)
There was a time when many doubted if Tsyzu could truly topple Charlo, who lost a lopsided decision to Alvarez a few weeks ago. There was a natural suspicion regarding the younger Tsyzu, just like there is with any son of a past legend. But its clear that not only is Tim not just a novelty act from 'Down Under', but he is a legitimate fighter.
Ask yourself this: If they faced one another in the first quarter of 2024, who would you favor?
Regardless of who you tab, it's a much more difficult question to answer now than it was 12 months ago, right?
There's no question who Tszyu wants next.
“Charlo, where you at? Where you at buddy?” Tszyu said in the ring afterward, calling out unified 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo. “He probably thinks in his delusional head that he’s going to beat me. Come get it. Come get it.”
Meanwhile in Texas, Janibek Alimkhanuly became a unified middleweight champion as he had no issues in dismissing Vincenzo Gualtieri in six rounds.
Alimkhanuly (15-0, 10 KOs) is now the WBO and IBF champion, but in truth this really doesn't bolster his claim as the best middleweight in the world. And quite frankly, as I pointed out in the last column, this division is currently at a low ebb.
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He says his goal is to become an undisputed champion. Currently the WBC belt-holder is Jermall Charlo, who is being shielded from any of his responsibilities of defending his belt by Mauricio Sulaiman. Charlo has not performed since the summer of 2021. The WBA titlist is Erislandy Lara, who has not fought since May of 2022 (where he stopped Gary 'Spike' O' Sullivan in eight rounds).
It has to be pointed out that both Charlo and Lara are under the PBC banner, so it's unlikely that Alimkhanuly will get a chance to ever fully unify this division.