Here are the most eye-catching stories from this weekend’s boxing news and ring action:
– Saturday proved to be a heck of a coming out party for second generation fighter and Australian star Tim Tszyu as he passed the biggest test of his career thus far with flying colors.
The 28-year-old son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu dominated former WBC junior middleweight champ Tony Harrison and stopped him in nine rounds to capture the vacant interim WBO junior middleweight title at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia.
Although the 32-year-old Harrison had some moments and was able to keep the contest relatively close with his jab and a bit of ring savvy (he was only down 77-75 on the three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage), it was clear that Tszyu was in charge.
Fighting in front of a wildly partisan home country crowd, Tszyu pushed forward the whole evening, never relented, and never gave his opponent room to breathe or space to execute his game. Predictably, the fan favorite’s heavy right hand proved to be a significant factor in this bout, one which actually brought about the referee stoppage in the ninth round.
Tszyu was supposed to have faced unified 4-belt 154 lb. champ Jermell Charlo this past January, but injury forced Charlo to pull out of the bout. Saturday’s victory, though, sets Tszyu up for a crack at the undisputed championship next.
The Charlo-Tszyu rivalry heated up last year when Charlo intentionally (or unintentionally) mispronounced Tszyu’s name when telling an Australian reporter asking about a Tszyu fight, “F*** you and Tim Kazoo!”
The second generation star has been apparently harboring that slight all this time, making it a point to shout, apparently at Charlo, “What’s my motherf*****g name? Say my motherf*****g name” in his post-fight interview Saturday night.
– The Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia hype officially kicked off last week with back-to-back press conferences in New York and Los Angeles. It was the usual stuff for these kinds of events, just publicity for the show and lots of posturing. The only real news to come from the pressers was regarding a rehydration clause limiting Garcia from entering the ring more than ten pounds above the contracted 136 lb. catchweight limit. This clause, unfortunately, would become the major talking point going into the weekend, with Garcia supporters labeling it as an effort to weight drain Garcia and Davis supporters insisting that the clause is merely there to ensure a level playing field. Garcia’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya, as well as Golden Boy exec Bernard Hopkins, have said that the rehydration clause will not be an issue.
– There was disharmony and disagreement throughout the week in the world of Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk heavyweight unification negotiations. Usyk’s promoter, who had previously insisted on a 50-50 revenue split due to his fighter having three of the four belts and Fury having just one, came out with a 60-40 split idea that would see the larger share going to the victor. Fury would counter via video message with a firm, take it or leave it, 70-30 split in his favor. Then, Usyk would answer with his own video message, agreeing to the 70-30 split in Fury’s favor, provided Fury donates to the people of the Ukraine, including a direct one million British pound donation. The WBA, which was set to mandate a Usyk title defense against Daniel Dubois, has temporarily suspended that order while this verbal deal making plays out. [UPDATE: The WBA now says that they have received confirmation of a Fury-Usyk deal in place]. The unification bout between WBC champ Tyson Fury and IBF/WBA/WBO titlist Oleksandr Usyk is tentatively scheduled to take place April 29 at Wembley Stadium in the UK.
– The bout between four-belt unified lightweight champion Devin Haney and former three-belt lightweight champ Vasiliy Lomachenko has been confirmed for May 20 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. This will be the 24-year-old Haney’s second defense of his fully-unified lightweight championship. The 35-year-old Lomachenko is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a three-division world champ, and is 13-2 in world title fights over the course of his 19-fight professional career. Haney-Lomachenko is set to be an ESPN PPV event.