Tim Tszyu has his first crack at a world title lined up once again, sort of, as the Aussie will face Tony Harrison for the interim WBO title on March 11 by U.S. time, March 12 in Australia.
Like last year’s Haney vs Kamboses fights that aired on ESPN in the United States, the Tszyu vs Harrison fight will take place during the afternoon on Sunday in Australia, so that it can air in prime time normal boxing hours on Saturday night in the U.S., most likely on Showtime.
Tszu was set to face Jermell Charlo for the undisputed championship of the division on Jan. 28, a fight date that had been agreed for months and then was scrapped late in December when Charlo suffered a broken hand.
Tszyu (21-0, 15 KO) was Charlo’s mandated first defense of the undisputed crown, as he has been the WBO mandatory challenger, and instead of waiting for Charlo any longer, he’s looking to solidify his position. Winning an interim title not only gives him a further claim to fight Charlo, not that it’s necessarily needed, but if Charlo vacates the WBO belt, Tszyu would then be elevated to full titleholder status.
It’s not set in stone, though, because Harrison (29-3-1, 21 KO) is absolutely no pushover. The 32-year-old veteran handed Charlo his only defeat back in late 2018, though he lost the rematch a year later. He’s 1-0-1 since, going to a draw against Bryant Perrella in Apr. 2021 and dominating for a decision win over Sergio Garcia in Apr. 2022.
Harrison is a terrific boxer whose style and skills can make for a very tough night against anybody. He doesn’t have the best chin in the game, which makes him a bit vulnerable when he gets caught — Willie Nelson, Jarrett Hurd, and Charlo have stopped him in his defeats, in fights that were all close on the cards. This also makes his fights pretty tense, because a change in momentum could come at any time, and Tszyu is a good puncher.
It’s not the matchup Tszyu wanted, and it’s a risky fight, but a bold move by him and his team to strengthen their position at 154 lbs while Charlo recovers for who knows how long. It’s also a big, big chance for Harrison, who is going on the road for the opportunity and as always, is not too hard to book into a real fight.