A potential big-money, career-defining fight could be on the cards for Tim Tszyu if the recently elevated WBO junior middleweight champion is able to overcome Brian Mendoza this weekend on the Gold Coast.
Tszyu (23-0, 17KOs) will return to the scene of his June demolition of Carlos Ocampo, where he showcased power, precision and efficiency before flooring the Mexican after just 77 seconds. The dominant performance was expected to finally land Tszyu a highly-anticipated fight against Jermell Charlo for the American’s quartet of belts at 154 pounds.
“He’s the man, I’ll give him that, and I’m just under,” Tszyu said of Charlo after his win over Ocampo. “I’ve got this interim belt, but I’m not satisfied. It’s not just the belts, I want the name Charlo on my wrist.”
Tszyu and Charlo had initially been slated to fight in January, but those plans were scuppered when Charlo suffered a broken left hand during training camp. By mid-year, the WBO had mandated Charlo to fight Tszyu before September 30, but the bout again failed to eventuate with Charlo instead opting to face Canelo Alvarez at supermiddleweight – a fight he would ultimately lose via a lopsided decision.
The WBO has since promoted Tszyu from interim champion to regular champion and this weekend he will defend that strap and title for the first time. There already appears to be plenty at stake for the Australian.
“If Tim can get through what will be his toughest test to date this Sunday, then it’s only the biggest and best fights for him after that,” No Limit Boxing CEO George Rose told Fox Sports. “Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, Canelo Alvarez … that’s what is next for Tim Tszyu. There are no bigger fights in boxing than taking down some of the world’s biggest pound-for-pound fighters in consecutive fights.”
“Charlo had his chance and he ran. He literally ran. He ran from fighting Tim for the undisputed title and then he ran around the ring all the way to the bank against Canelo.”
Tszyu will enter this bout as a considerable favourite with oddsmakers, but Mendoza (22-2, 16KOs) must not be taken lightly.
“I’m expecting a war and I’m expecting Mendoza to test me more than any other fighter,” said Tszyu. “He has power in both hands and has shown he thrives off being that underdog, so I doubt coming to Australia will bother him.”
The American most recently shocked the world with a knockout of highly accomplished Sebastian Fundora in April to claim the WBC interim super welterweight title. Prior to that, he jumped up the rankings with a fifth-round knockout of Jeison Rosario in Minneapolis.
This weekend will mark the first time Mendoza has fought outside the United States, but he isn’t concerned with the monumental task ahead. Instead, he believes his power can cause problems for Tszyu.
“Just based off the facts, I have more explosive shots,” Mendoza told media in Sydney earlier in the week. “The thing about me is I have power, but I’m not just a power puncher. I don’t go in there trying to look for one shot. I’ll hurt you for 12 rounds. That’s why I even got called here to this country in the first place for this title fight.
“I have a bigger chip on my shoulder. I have more to prove each time out. I always hated to say that, but [back-to-back losses] was something I needed to go through, something I had to experience, because before you feel that taste of defeat, it’s something impossible. It’s unfathomable. You really don’t think it’s possible and then it kind of crushes in reality.
“So when you can make it through the ups and downs of that roller coaster, there’s a lot to come out through on top of that. And I just really, really had to dig it out, so that hunger is really what makes a difference here.”
Also featuring on this weekend’s card is rising Australian featherweight Sam Goodman (15-0, 7KOs) who will look to stay undefeated when he takes on American Miguel Flores (25-4-1, 12 KOs).