Jermell Charlo is prepared to get at least one mandatory title defense out of the way.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Houston’s Charlo and Australia’s Tim Tszyu have reached an agreement surrounding their WBO junior middleweight title fight, thus avoiding a purse bid hearing. The fight was ordered May 31, with the two sides coming to terms well within the twenty-day negotiation period.
“The Charlo/Tszyu fight is going forward,” Gustavo Olivieri, lead counsel for the WBO informed BoxingScene.com, confirming an earlier breaking news report from ESPN Deportes’ Salvador ‘Chava’ Rodriguez while on site at the International Boxing Hall of Fame induction weekend in Canastota, New York.
Charlo (35-1-1, 19KOs) will make his first title defense as the division’s undisputed champion and sixth overall defense spanning two title reigns.
Should this fight move forward, Tszyu (21-0, 15KOs) will enter his first career title challenge, coming after previously campaigning to have his WBO mandatory challenger status enforced while Argentina’s Brian Castano (17-1-2, 12KOs) held the belt.
Further details of the fight were not made available. Messages left with several representatives for Premier Boxing Champions (PBC)—which has both fighters under contract—were not returned as this goes to publish.
The mandatory title defense was inherited by Charlo after his tenth-round knockout of Castano in their May 14 rematch at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The official two-month delay and overall ten-month span in between their two fights prompted Tszyu and his Australian promotional team No Limit Boxing to formally petition the WBO to order an immediate title fight with Castano.
Tszyu joined the PBC family in a multi-fight contract soon thereafter. The deal began with his off-the-canvas, twelve-round decision win over 2012 U.S. Olympian and former title challenger Terrel Gausha on March 26 in Minneapolis. The fight marked Tszyu’s debut both with PBC and in the U.S., resurfacing seven weeks later as a ringside observer for the Charlo-Castano rematch.
Tszyu’s US debut was originally to come as the co-feature to Charlo-Castano II on a planned March 19 show at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. The event fell apart after a training camp injury by Castano caused the delay. The development put the rematch ten months out from their split decision draw last July 17 in San Antonio, Texas.
Charlo got it right the second time around, adding the WBO belt while defending the lineal/WBC/WBA/IBF championship in the process.
Expectations entering the rematch were for the winner to have to next defend against Bakhram Murtazaliev (20-0, 15KOs), who has been the IBF mandatory since November 2019. The unbeaten Russian has fought three times since then, all on the untelevised portion of PBC undercards and while collecting step aside money to first allow the path to crowning an undisputed champion.
According to the current rotation, the IBF should be next in line to satisfy mandatory title defense obligations. There is not any indication at this moment that such a fight won’t happen next, despite whatever arrangement has been made between Charlo and Tszyu to avoid a purse bid.
Also waiting for a shot at the division’s top prize is interim WBC junior middleweight titlist Sebastian Fundora (19-0-1, 13KOs).The 6’5 ½” southpaw from Coachella, California earned his place in line with an off-the-canvas, ninth-round stoppage of Orlando’s Erickson Lubin this past April 9 in the leading candidate for 2022’s Fight of the Year among male boxers.
Israil Madrimov (8-0, 6KOs) became the WBA mandatory following a controversial ninth-round stoppage of France’s Michel Soro last December 17 in his homeland of Tashkent, Uzbekistan. An immediate rematch was ordered by the WBA, with the two set to run it back July 9 at The O2 in London.
Charlo admitted after his statement-making win over Castano that the overwhelming number of mandatories in waiting could result in the titles becoming splintered once again. For now, the division’s king and pound-for-pound entrant is willing to do his part to avoid breaking up his undisputed championship crown.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox