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Tszyu’s tall order at short notice: The Vegas debut with major ramifications

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tim tszyu, sebastian fundora, las vegas

THE TIM TSZYU FIGHT GUIDE: There’s a last-minute change of plan for Tim Tszyu’s Las Vegas debut on March 31.

As the cat-and-mouse game continues between Tim Tszyu and American Jermell Charlo continues, the Aussie’s had no choice but to look elsewhere — and boy had he found a guy. But sadly, the plan has changed, as of March 19 — less than two weeks out from fight night.

Tszyu’s next fight was booked to be tough customer Keith Thurman, but the American has had to withdraw at short notice, after suffering what reports are labelling a ‘freak injury’ in training.

So Las Vegas, March 31 (in AEDT) is still going ahead. But it’s a different opponent; Californian Sebastian Fundora, known as The Towering Inferno, who will provide Tszyu (24-0) with different challenges — a tricky little ask on short notice.

After an incredibly successful 2023 campaign, which saw Tszyu win all three of his fights, two of which were against highly ranked middleweight boxers in Tony Harrison and Brian Mendoza, the Sydneysider has committed to fighting under the bright lights of the States for the foreseeable future, as he tries to close in on even bigger fights.

And it seems he’s getting noticed, given Thurman was willing to play ball and now another reasonably high profile option has stepped up to the plate on next to no notice.

Tszyu, the WBO super welterweight champion, will look to add the WBC Super Welterweight belt (vacant) to his collection.

Details of Tim Tszyu’s next fight?

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Tim Tszyu (AUS) v Sebastian Fundora (USA)

When and where?

March 30 (March 31 in Australia)

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

Tim Tszyu will headline Premier Boxing Champions’ (PBC) first pay-per-view in partnership with Prime Video in Las Vegas at the end of March.

For Australians wanting to watch Tim Tszyu’s next fight as he attempts to go 25-0, it will be on Sunday March 31.

Fundora (20-1-1, 13 KOs) was booked to fight Ukraine’s Serhii Bohachuk for the vacant WBC super-middleweight belt on the same card, but now steps up to the main event.

Tim Tszyu's next fight, Thurman
Tszyu took care of the incredibly tough Mendoza to cap off 2023.

What time is the Tim Tszyu fight?

The main card kicks off at 11:00am (AEDT) Easter Sunday, meaning Tszyu and Fundora will meet in the ring early-to-mid afternoon — rough estimation is that it starts around 2:00-3:00pm (AEDT).

How to watch Tszyu v Fundora in Australia

Things won’t change down under, the card will be available as a pay-per-view live on Main Event, or via Kayo.

What happens if Tszyu wins?

That’s always the million dollar question in world boxing, but the stakes could not be bigger for the Aussie, which makes it even more wild that he’s accepted this opponent at such short notice. But that’s how the Tszyu boys roll.

Tim is still undefeated, so first and foremost, he’s looking to keep his unblemished record in tact.

Such is the case with Australians looking to prove themselves on the world stage, there’s more to be lost than gained against Fundora — he’ll gain a level of respect from America’s boxing community, but stands to lose plenty of admirers if he ends up going down to the Towering Inferno.

And beyond all of that, it could potentially cost him a shot at one of the biggest fights of the next 12 months, should he earn the chance to become Terence ‘Bid’ Crawford’s next opponent. Crawford is – pretty much – hands down the best pound-for-pound on the planet and for that reason, doesn’t have the easiest of tasks finding guys willing to dance with him.

Tszyu won’t be afraid of an opportunity, if he gets one. But he must take care of business against Fundora, or promoters may well think the juice is not worth the squeeze.

Who is Sebastian Fundora?

The Towering Inferno poses a tricky proposition for Tszyu. As the nickname insinuates, Fundora possesses an abnormally tall stature for not just super welterweights, but boxers in general — he stands at 197cm. For reference, Tszyu is 174cm; a difference of more than 20 centremetres.

Fundora is nearly 10 years Thurman’s junior, at 26. He’s coming off his first and only defeat, after being knocked out by Brian Mendoza just under a year ago. Mendoza, of course, was Tszyu’s most recent challenger — he came down under off the back of that momentum, but Tszyu had his measure in a gripping 12 rounds of boxing.

On paper, Fundora is not quite on Tszyu’s level. The Aussie famously scored a first round knockout over Mexican Carlos Ocampo on the Gold Coast mid-last year. Fundora has also fought Ocampo, winning by unanimous decision.

Fundora re-enters the ring having given himself essentially a full 12 months to put his head injury behind him.

How do Tszyu and Fundora matchup against each other?

This one’s fascinating, because Tszyu hasn’t faced anyone that has such a height and reach advantage before. And given the short notice, he wouldn’t have sparred against someone of his dimensions, or put together a game plan specific to Fundora’s unique physique.

Fundora has proven he has some punching power that’s troubled fighters in the past, like Erickson Lubin back in 2022.

But equally, the towering American doesn’t take punches as well as Tszyu’s last opponent Mendoza, who showed unrivalled toughness in the ring despite copping an absolute beatdown from the Aussie. Both Lubin and Mendoza sent Fundora to the canvas and he couldn’t get back to his feet against the latter.

If Tszyu is able to figure his way through the fight early, against a much taller opponent, expect the Australian to live up to his name, The Soul Taker, and take Fundora to very deep waters.

It’s an intriguing Vegas debut for Tszyu, who is 1-0 in the United States — his only appearance on forign soil was in Minnesota against Terrell Gausha, who was the only fighter that’s even scored a knock down against Tszyu.

Tim Tszyu’s last fight

Brian Mendoza – Tszyu won by unanimous decision – October 15, 2023

Tszyu continued to go hunting big names last year and Mendoza was his latest. There’s no doubting the American star posed yet another dangerous challenge for the unbeaten Aussie, but Tszyu was able to handle his threatening punching power, patiently out-boxing Mendoza and going close to ending it a couple of times.

The American showed incredible resilience to deny the ref a chance at stepping in, when Tszyu looked seriously close to ending it in the latter rounds.

The 12 rounds will hold Tszyu in even better stead for the bright-lighted Vegas mission he about to embark on. The Aussie has been able to prove he has the power to end fights quickly, but also the fitness and resilience to tough it out in deep water.

What happened to Charlo v Tszyu?

It’s the question every Tim Tszyu supporter asks themselves, as the Australian has been so clearly keen to get in the ring against the former super welterweight champion.

Following Charlo’s withdrawal from his scheduled bout with Tszyu at the start of 2023, thanks to a hand injury, the American has done nothing to worry the rising star from down under.

The actions of Charlo provide clear indications he’s not very keen on the idea of facing Tszyu. Charlo instead chased money and went up in weight for a fight with Alverez; he lost via unanimous decision.

Rather than waiting, Tim Tszyu has continued to take risks and stay busy. And that hard work has paid off; he’s gotten through unscathed and undoubtedly grown as a boxer.

As Tszyu was departing for the States in late-January, he fired off a couple of shots at his rival Charlo, claiming that he now believes he’ll never get to fight him.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m never going to fight him, because he’s a bit of a coward and finally all the sanctioning bodies are realising that he’s a fraud,” Tszyu said.

“He went so hard to win the belts and you have to go even harder to keep them, what did he do? He just stopped fighting, that’s unfair for the rest of the division.”

“It’s held us all up for two or three years, so let him go into hiding, into his little holiday or whatever he does. Not my concern, he’s not on the radar anymore for anyone at the moment, he’s got nothing to bring…that (stripping of his belts) should have happened months ago when me and Mendoza fought.”

Picture of Phil Prior
Phil Prior
Phil is the editorial lead at Only Sports, bringing more than 12 years of wide-ranging sports media experience to the team. But it’s his unrivalled passion that sets him apart. He also commentates AFL on SEN Radio, plus Rugby on Stan Sport. Find Phil on LinkedIn.

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