Tim Tszyu watched the most significant fight in his division with the intention of being first in line to challenge for the undisputed crown.
The junior middleweight division was left without such a champion, as Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano fought to a twelve-round draw Saturday evening at AT&T Center in San Antonio. Judge Steve Weisfeld (114-113) ruled in favor of Castano, while Nelson Vazquez (117-111) had Charlo winning by an absurdly wide margin. Judge Tim Cheatham (114-114) had the contest even to produce the stalemate.
The three-way split allows Charlo (34-1-1, 18KOs) to leave with his lineal/WBC/WBA/IBF titles still intact, while Castano remains the WBO titlist—for which Tszyu remains the number-one contender.
“Congrats Brian Castano,” Tszyu noted after the terrific championship fight. “I’m ready when you are.”
Australia’s Tszyu (19-0, 15KOs) preserved his place at the front of the line following a third-round knockout of overmatched late replacement Stevie Spark earlier this month. The undefeated second-generation boxer has served as the top-rated contender to the WBO title for all of 2021, though yet to be named as the mandatory challenger.
Castano was the mandatory contender for more than a year before finally getting to Patrick Teixeira, whom he thoroughly outboxed to win the belt this past February. Tszyu has added two knockout wins to his ledger since then, stopping Dennis Hogan inside of five rounds this past March and the aforementioned July 7 stoppage win over Spark.
Following the win over Spark, a stateside tour was suggested as being part of Tszyu’s future in the event that a title fight is not next. With the absence of an undisputed champion, however, now exists a quicker path to the WBO crown. A rematch between Charlo and Castano is expected to next take place for both fighters. In the event that Charlo is first forced to honor his IBF mandatory title defense versus Bakhram Murtazaliev (19-0, 14KOs)—who won on the Charlo-Castano undercard—it is expected that Castano will be ordered to next face Tszyu.
As Tszyu has emerged as a top draw in Australia, his team will continue to push for his first world title fight to take place on his home soil.
“The way I see it, the world title has to be out here in Australia,” George Rose, Tszyu’s promoter previously told The Sydney Morning Herald. “That’s the situation we’re in and that’s what we need to come up with to make it happen.
“We want the world title and we want it in Australia.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox