Tim Tszyu captured the interim WBO super middleweight title tonight in Sydney, Australia, stopping Tony Harrison in the ninth round and delivering his best performance yet as a professional.
Tszyu (22-0, 16 KO) was meant to be fighting Jermell Charlo for the undisputed 154 lb championship on Jan. 28, but when that fell apart due to a Charlo injury, he chose a risky fight against a former titlist willing to travel to Australia and face him.
On paper, Harrison (29-4-1, 21 KO) had the sort of boxing skills and style that could have given Tszyu serious problems, and you saw that a bit in this fight, but Tszyu was more poised, sharp, and smart than we’ve ever seen him, with calm pressure and a game plan that he followed, never getting rattled by Harrison working his effective jab, never throwing too much into the moment, and working away patiently to break his opponent down.
Harrison was hurt in round three, and while Tszyu did jump for a finish, it wasn’t there, and he settled it down quickly. Tszyu did eat a healthy amount of jabs along the way, but it was also always clear that Harrison’s rare power shots weren’t making any real difference, and his jab wasn’t truly controlling the fight at any point, as Tszyu just kept marching forward with determination and focus.
He hurt Harrison pretty badly in the ninth round, and referee Danrex Tapdasan arguably could have jumped in before he did, as Harrison seemed to be basically out on his feet and fighting purely on instinct, taking more shots before he went down. Tapdasan gave Harrison the chance to get up, but when he examined him at that point, he rightly stopped the bout.
“The respect is always there. We had a bit of banter, but we always had respect for each other. Tonight, I proved to him I was the better man,” Tszyu said.
Toward Charlo, Tszyu said, “The message was sent clearly. You know what’s up. You know what’s next. I’m coming. I’m coming to America. Australia already knew, now the world. What’s my motherfuckin’ name? Say my motherfuckin’ name.”
“He was impressive, he did what he had to do at home,” Jermell Charlo said from the Showtime Studios. “But my movement, my style, my power will make him have to do different things.”
“I’m cool, man. I trained extremely hard, I don’t need no moral victories. The better man won tonight. The city was electric, the crowd was electric,” Harrison said. “The better man won tonight. I ain’t gonna give my assessment tonight. He’s on to bigger and better things, and I don’t know where I go from here. Tim, congratulations, my boy.”