Rematch with Tszyu or a fight with Spence? Fundora has many options

Boxing

Sebastian Fundora, blood still sprayed all over his long torso, soaked in the biggest victory of his career when Errol Spence Jr. stepped through the ropes.

Fundora, the 6-foot-5 ½, 154-pound “Towering Inferno,” just pulled off the upset with a split-decision win over Australian star Tim Tszyu to capture two junior middleweight titles on Saturday in Las Vegas inside T-Mobile Arena.

It’s a fight Fundora (21-1-1, 13 KOs) wasn’t even a part of until 11 days out, when he received the call to replace Keith Thurman, who ruptured his biceps.

Fundora, 26, broke his nose in the opening round and lost the first two on all three scorecards. But when Tszyu leaned over to attack toward the end of Round 2, he collided with Fundora’s left elbow, suffering a big cut on his hairline that didn’t stop bleeding.

“Boom, you’re blinded completely,” said Tszyu, the son of Hall of Fame boxer Kostya Tszyu. “This is boxing and this is part of the sport. Congratulations to Fundora, he’s the new king of 154.”

As the new ruler of the junior middleweight division, Fundora will have bountiful, lucrative options. The fight that makes the most logical sense is an immediate rematch with Tszyu.

After all, it was a close fight, and Tszyu faced trying circumstances with a gruesome cut that spooled blood into his eyes for the duration of the fight. It was also a thrilling fight, one that desperately calls for a return bout.

Tszyu was forced to adjust to Fundora, a far different opponent than Thurman, on 11 days’ notice. Fundora, meanwhile, was preparing for Serhii Bohachuk, a fighter who owns a style and frame similar to Tszyu’s.

Tszyu gave Fundora a shot at his title and deserves a chance to exact revenge. It’s also what the fans called for on social media after the bout. But this is boxing, and as in life, fairness has nothing to do with it.

It’s no accident Spence was ringside and immediately thrust into the ring just two months after he underwent cataract surgery. Clearly, there were at least plans in place for Spence to fight the winner. All three boxers fight under the PBC banner.

And if it’s not going to be Tszyu, it should be Terence Crawford who receives the first crack at Fundora. As the WBO’s “super” champion at 147 pounds, Crawford was able to position himself for a mandatory shot at a new weight, and it’s expected the fight with Fundora will be ordered this week.

Fundora now owns two belts, and if he wants to fight Spence, he can vacate the WBO strap and still defend the WBC title.

“It’s time to get it on,” Spence said. “He gotta face the big dog now. … He got a pretty good height, but we’ll see. We’ll break him down like we always do.”

Elsewhere at 154 pounds, there’s Uzbek Israil Madrimov, who won the WBA title last month with a TKO victory over Magomed Kurbanov. Madrimov, between his athleticism and power, appears to be a formidable fighter.

Vergil Ortiz Jr., too, now resides at 154 pounds. He’ll fight for the second time at junior middleweight April 27 vs. Thomas Dulorme. There’s also the IBF title, whose vacancy will be filled by a Jack Culcay-Bakhram Murtazaliev fight on April 7 in Germany.

Jermell Charlo remains ESPN’s No. 1 boxer at 154 pounds — for now — but he’s no longer the undisputed champion. In fact, he has yet to compete at junior middleweight since he defeated Brian Castano in a May 2022 rematch.

As Tszyu said, Fundora is the “new king of 154,” a shocking development after he was KOed by Brian Mendoza in an upset last year. And if everything plays out as it should, Tszyu will land his deserved rematch next. Just don’t count on it. — Mike Coppinger


Pitbull adds new dimension to stacked 140-pound division

As Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz said in the ring following his dominant beatdown of Rolando Romero Saturday night, he is now a player at 140 pounds.

Or did you miss the WBA junior welterweight belt he took from Romero with his eighth-round stoppage?

“There is going to be a Mexican champ at 140 pounds for a long time,” said Cruz (26-2-1, 18 KOs), of Mexico City.

Might there be a unified champ at the weight class? Should that be Cruz’s next goal?

Teofimo Lopez holds the title for the WBO, while Devin Haney holds the WBC strap. A fight with Subriel Matias, the IBF’s champ, could be a great matchup that could tap into the rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Plus, it’s a division boasting the likes of Ryan Garcia, Lopez, Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez.

Then there’s the matter of Gervonta Davis, the WBA’s lightweight champ. “Tank” handed Cruz his most recent defeat five fights ago, by unanimous decision, on Dec 5, 2021, in Los Angeles. That was for the WBA’s “regular” lightweight title.

“I don’t have anything to say to Gervonta, really,” Cruz said. “He can [say] whatever he wants, but we silenced the doubters tonight. If he isn’t scared, let’s go for the rematch.”

And of Garcia, who has his own fight with Haney upcoming?

“Ryan Garcia can say whatever he wants,” Cruz said. “I’ll make him eat all the trash he talks, just like I did with Rolly.”

After Cruz’s performance against Romero, he’s in position to create his own immediate path.

“I’m very happy and humbled to win this title for my family and for Mexico,” he said. “I was prepared for this. I wasn’t here to just fight; I was here to terminate him. I did my talking right here in the ring.

“Damn, it feels good to be a world champion.” — Paul Gutierrez

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