Jermell Charlo’s injury struggles could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Tim Tszyu.
Can the 28-year-old top junior middleweight contender now be providing a blueprint for young fighters to emulate after a mostly inactive 2022 left him dissatisfied? Rather than waiting on the lottery ticket, Tszyu has verbally committed to staying busy, a trait that has unfortunately been absent from most mainstream fighters for many years.
Tszyu is the WBO mandatory challenger to Charlo, who became the undisputed 154-pound king when he collected all four belts with a 10th-round knockout of Brian Castano last May 14 in a rematch at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
As it stood, Tszyu was set to face Charlo coming off a career-long layoff of 10 months on January 28 in Las Vegas. On the other hand, Charlo was prepared to go eight months between fights but broke his hand in two places during a sparring session late last year in Houston. As a result, Charlo was forced to withdraw from the fight, and doctors subsequently ordered him to wear a cast for two months before beginning rehabilitation.
The unfortunate turn of events for the undefeated Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) opened the door for Tszyu—whose father, Kostya, is a Hall of Fame former undisputed 140-pound champion—to sharpen the blade.
Tim Tszyu (22-0, 16 KOs) fought just once in 2022, when he survived an opening round knockdown to outpoint 2012 U.S. Olympia and former title challenger Terrell Gausha at The Armory Minneapolis, Minnesota, in his debut. Following the fight, Tszyu underwent successful surgery on both hands—a clean-out of both sets of knuckles—prior to Charlo’s victory over Castano.
Last year, Tszyu stated in an interview that he “never understood” the lack of activity from the major contenders in his weight class. After experiencing the inactivity for the first time himself, Tszyu has learned that you can only focus on yourself.
It was revealed in recent days that Charlo wouldn’t be ready to face Tszyu until at least the fall, as the recovery from his hand injury hasn’t been as smooth as expected. Although annoyed and disappointed, Tszyu revealed his intentions of taking another interim bout in June.
Risky? Potentially. Tim Tszyu holds the WBO interim junior middleweight title, essentially his hot pass to facing Charlo. A loss would lead to the surrender of that luxury, but sitting on the couch isn’t what Tszyu is here to do.
Besides, this is Tim ‘F******’ Tszyu. He’s a risk-taker. He was warned against fighting Charlo coming off the longest layoff of his career, and signed the contract anyway. He was warned against fighting an experienced pugilist in Harrison…
…with a Charlo fight on the horizon and destroyed him with ease.
The boxing world tends to bag on fighters who get too tempestuous with their claims, and the difference with Tszyu is that he backs it up with his fists and a swipe of the pen.
Hopefully, fighters like David Benavidez, Errol Spence Jr., Terence Crawford, David Morrell, and others follow the example Tim Tszyu is trying to set.