Tim Tszyu doesn’t even want to consider the thought of waiting any longer for his overdue title shot.
The second-generation boxer and current top-rated WBO junior middleweight contender make the trek from Australia to Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California for the undisputed championship rematch between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano. Tszyu (21-0, 15KOs) was previously eyeing a showdown with Argentina’s Castano (17-1-2, 12KOs), who held the WBO belt since last February.
That status changed in his May 14 rematch with Houston’s Charlo (35-1-1, 19KOs), the lineal/WBC/WBA/IBF champ at the start of the Showtime main event. Charlo added the WBO belt to his collection, inheriting with it one more mandatory contender in Tszyu who begrudgingly bypassed his due title shot to allow the Charlo-Castano rematch to happen. Given the already brewing rivalry between Charlo and Tszyu, the former shouldn’t count on too many more favors from the latter.
“He’s got four months to decide if that fight’s going to happen or if he vacates,” Tszyu told BoxingScene.com. “If he decides to vacate then I’ll fight for the WBO title, which means—I don’t know exactly how that will work, whoever is next in line, I suppose.
“What I do know, I’m mandatory for the WBO. It’s been a long wait for me. [Charlo] doesn’t have too many options. It’s me, [interim WBC titlist Sebastian] Fundora, [IBF mandatory Bakhram Murtazaliev]… that’s it, really.”
Tszyu has been the number-one contender with the WBO for more than a year and was formally named the mandatory challenger last August. The Puerto Rico-headquartered sanctioning body refrained from ordering a mandatory title defense at junior middleweight, given that Castano was just one month removed from his controversial split decision draw with Charlo last July 17 and at the time planned to enter a rematch later last year.
A considerable delay in plans prompted Tszyu and promoter George Rose of No Limit Boxing Promotions to contact the WBO in efforts to have his mandatory status enforced. A concession was made, which allowed the rematch to happen and for Tszyu to enter a multi-fight agreement with Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), which also houses Charlo and Castano. The deal was consummated with Tszyu’s U.S. debut, overcoming an opening round knockdown to outpoint Terrel Gausha in an entertaining twelve-round bout this past March 26 at The Armory in Minneapolis.
“This rematch had to go through me,” noted Tszyu. “I could have said no, they have to make the mandatory now and (Castano) would have to fight me instead. But, I agreed to let the boys fight and prove who’s the best.”
Charlo proved to be the best, but now has the challenge of retaining his belts without having to relinquish for failure to defend. The rematch with Castano was his first in ten months, following their previous meeting last July. Before that, Charlo hadn’t fought since an eighth-round knockout of Jeison Rosario in September 2020 to win the WBA/IBF belts while defending his WBC title he regained in a knockout win over Tony Harrison in their December 2019 rematch.
Tszyu has literally fought twice as much as Charlo since the pandemic, with the preference to maintain that level of activity.
“I prefer to have the next fight as the big one, of course,” admits Tszyu. “It really depends if [Charlo] wants to stay around on his honeymoon for another six months, then I’ll have to fight before then.
“He’s got four belts. He has responsibility now. You can’t be doing one fight a year.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox