I saw the logic when Tim Tszyu was matched with Keith Thurman. 

Thurman represented a suitable opponent when attempting to introduce Tszyu to a wider American audience. There’s also a huge market in Australia, and we’re seeing more and more high-profile promotions take place in Australia – as the two fights in 2022 between Devin Haney and George Kambosos Jr showed – and more Australian fighters appear on high-profile promotions elsewhere.

Tszyu has the potential to be a legitimate global star. Premier Boxing Champions appear to want to make him a household name, so matching him with a recognised former champion like Thurman seemed a good move. 

For all of Tszyu’s activity and Thurman’s lack thereof, it also didn’t look an easy fight for him. Thuman’s a very, very talented fighter, and strategically difficult because of his punch accuracy and lateral movement – even though Thurman’s 35 years and Tszyu’s youth and aggression made him a clear favourite. At that age Thurman’s biceps injury potentially threatens his career, by the way. 

When Sebastian Fundora replaced the injured Thurman, the knowledge that he was already on course to fight on the same promotion, and is therefore in shape, meant I immediately anticipated a more fun fight, stylistically. Tszyu, 29, applies consistent pressure, cuts off the ring very well, is big at light middleweight, and is physically strong – and Fundora, 26, strategically, is an easier opponent. He won’t have to go and find Fundora, who’s also a busier, younger fighter, and heavy handed. I anticipate a shootout, and a better fight between them than I was expecting between Tszyu and Thurman. 

Tszyu-Thurman also wasn’t scheduled to be a title fight – the WBO did the right thing by not sanctioning Thuman as an opponent – but Tszyu-Fundora has become a unification fight for the WBO and WBC titles, giving it more meaning. Terence Crawford entering the picture has potentially given it even more meaning. He’s been very, very smart in the way he’s manoeuvring his career – becoming mandatory challenger to the WBO title is the latest demonstration of that. In addition to remaining in contention to potentially move up to middleweight to fight Chris Eubank Jr or super middleweight for Saul “Canelo” Alvarez later this year, he’s also on course for the winner of Tszyu-Fundora.

Tszyu will know better than most Canelo’s influence. Before the announcement of Canelo-Jermell Charlo one of the fights most of us wanted was Charlo-Tszyu. Tszyu’s victory over Brian Mendoza – not unlike the fantastic win over Tony Harrison – has made him more ready for a fight like that, and it might be he’s still not yet at his peak.

We’ve ultimately seen too many holes in Fundora’s defence – he gets hit too often with the left hand. I also think Tszyu’s a better fighter than he’s been credit for so far and that we’re going to be watching him for years to come, largely because of the stoppage I expect him to secure on Saturday.

Before Tszyu-Fundora we’ll see Rolando “Rolly” Romero, also at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, defend his WBA super lightweight title against Isaac Cruz. Romero’s a lot of fun, even if he’s a very undeserved world champion – the stoppage of Ismael Barroso in his past fight was the worst in recent memory.

Barroso had a great game plan, had Romero on his heels all night long, and was fighting a great fight. Romero-Cruz is a weird fight, because I don’t know why Cruz deserves to be a world-title challenger in a weight division he’s not established in, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a good match-up or that, stylistically, they won’t gel. 

Romero’s explosive and powerful, and fights like he’s mugging you – not unlike Cruz, a Mexican who punches with both fists. It’s also difficult to pick a winner. I like Romero’s physicality and athleticism as much as Cruz’s doggedness and discipline. If it ends in the first half of the fight, I believe Romero will win. If it ends in the second, I favour Cruz.