Australia’s Tim Tszyu is set to take the biggest risk of his outstanding young career. He bets superstar Jermell Charlo against the now-unified Super He-Welterweight Champion, the only man ever to beat him.
As first predicted by Fox Sports Australia in December, Tszyu will challenge for the interim WBO world title in Australia on Sunday, March 12.
Just weeks after Charlo’s postponed unification championship showdown — thanks to Champ breaking his hand — Tsuju won his first blockbuster title against US star Tony Harrison.
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Tszyu’s younger brother Nikita will also be competing on the card at a yet-to-be-announced venue, while Hall of Famer father Kostya will be at ringside as a spectator.
In 2018, Harrison defeated Charlo to win the WBC super welterweight title.
The Detroit native, who won by unanimous decision, lost the belt in his next bout, but Charlo won the rematch by 11th-round TKO.
The American has since drawn with Bryant Perera, beat Sergio Garcia to return to a world title showdown, and beat fellow contender and undefeated Russian Bakram Murtazariev to earn a chance to face Tsuju. .
The Australian title fight winner will face Charlo for all four straps later this year.
But is Tszyu taking a big risk against Harrison, who is ranked No. 2 in the WBC and No. 3 in the WBO?
“Every battle you take is in danger,” said Tszyu.
“I’m close to rock bottom. It’s all a 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[Harrison]was the next best option. I’m at a stage in my career and I don’t care who’s in front of me. I’m ready to take it all away.”
Harrison’s record is 29-3-1.
Of his wins, 21 were knockouts.
Despite this, Tszyu claims to have the edge in various areas against the Americans, including a fierce home crowd advantage.
“I think Australia will erupt,” he said.
“I haven’t played in nearly a year and a half since I got home, but I know it’s going to be the biggest show I’ve ever played.
“This is a big fight for Australia and a special moment in my career.
“I have a lot of die-hard fans who support and follow me, so he’ll find the Australian atmosphere kind of insane.
“But the biggest problem he faces is not the fans, it’s me.”
Harrison has always had the idea of playing Tsuju in Australia, telling reporters last year:
“Take me on vacation. Travel the world and fight whoever you want me to fight.”
“Let me see a kangaroo, a rattlesnake, etc… like that, I want it. I want to fight him, but I want to fight him there.”
No Limit Boxing CEO George Rose added:
“But they don’t have to wait any longer.
“I visited Tim in the United States for his training camp, so please believe me when I tell you that he is ready to accept.
Worldwide by any means necessary.
“He’s in the best shape of his life, coming home for the first time since 2021 and fighting more hungry than ever.
“[But]Tim also knows that this is not a walk in the park.
“There’s a very dangerous man ahead of him. Tony Harrison is the only man in the world to beat the undisputed champion Jermell Charlo, so that’s a big risk.”
The pressure on Tszyu to fight for the interim title at home started on Christmas Day when Charlo first announced his break on social media.
Within 48 hours, WBO officials sent a letter to the champion warning him that he would need to prove further evidence of his injury.
Upon refusing to do so, the Directive continued and could see Charlo stripped of his title.
Almost immediately, Harrison and Murtazaliev emerged as contenders should Charlo be stripped or an interim title fight announced.
In the end it was the Americans who won.
Tsuju, who has been training in the U.S. since November, will soon return to Japan and finish training in Sydney.