Sources: Tszyu set to defend title vs. Thurman

Boxing

Tim Tszyu will defend his WBO junior middleweight title against Keith Thurman on March 30 in Las Vegas, sources tell ESPN. The 154-pound title bout will headline PBC’s first pay-per-view as part of its new deal with Amazon’s Prime Video.

Tszyu (24-0, 17 KOs) broke through in 2023 with wins over former titleholder Tony Harrison by ninth-round TKO, Carlos Ocampo by first-round knockout and Brian Mendoza by unanimous decision. The 29-year-old Australian said after his win over Mendoza in October that he would campaign in the U.S. going forward.

Tszyu, the son of Hall of Fame boxer Kostya Tszyu, will start his quest for stateside stardom with a fight against his most high-profile opponent yet in Thurman, a former unified welterweight champion and one of the best 148-pound fighters of the previous decade. Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs), 35, has one career loss, against the legendary Manny Pacquiao in July 2019, when Thurman was floored in Round 1 and rallied before dropping a split decision.

But Thurman has been woefully inactive. His lone fight since the defeat to Pacquiao came in February 2022, when he defeated Mario Barrios by unanimous decision. The win was Thurman’s only bout in the past four-and-a-half years.

He’ll end a 25-month layoff when he moves up one weight class to challenge Tszyu, ESPN’s No. 2 boxer at 154 pounds. Tszyu was set to challenge Jermell Charlo for the undisputed junior middleweight championship last January before Charlo withdrew with a hand injury.

Tszyu went on to win the WBO’s interim title and was later elevated to champion when Charlo was stripped. Thurman owns quality decision victories over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia in 2016 and ’17, respectively.

The event marks the start of PBC’s partnership with Amazon’s Prime Video, though the PPV will also be available on linear television. PBC has been Showtime’s main boxing provider since 2013, but the network announced in October it would disband its sports programming.

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