A FORTNIGHT after the world’s No.1 154lbs fighter was taught a lesson up at super-middleweight, Tim Tszyu and Brian Mendoza meet to determine the best of the rest.
Jermell Charlo is the world champion at the weight but hopped up two divisions to face Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in a money-spinning Las Vegas clash last month.
Charlo was soundly beaten by the bigger, better man on the night but he claims he will be back down to light-middleweight, or super-welter in new money, due to some ‘unfinished business’ he needs to take care of.
Much of that will depend upon what happens on Sunday at the Gold Coast Convention Center in Broadbeach, Australia when Tszyu and Mendoza meet in a battle of the No.1 and No.2 ranked fighters at the weight.
It will be Tszyu’s third fight of 2023 already following impressive stoppage wins over both Tony Harrison and Carlos Ocampo, the second of which lasted just 77 seconds at the same arena he will meet Mendoza.
Those wins added to his burgeoning reputation as one of boxing’s most lethal finishers which goes some way to explain his nickname ‘The Soul Taker’. But Mendoza, off the back of two inside the distance wins of his own, over Jeison Rosario and Sebastien Fundora respectively, will be supremely confident of putting a pin in the whole thing down under and certainly heading home with at least his soul intact.
Indeed this will be the 29-year-old Las Vegas resident’s first fight outside the United States and how he handles the travel, time difference and everything else that comes with it might be a factor in this fight. The crowd might too.
“He has power in both hands and has shown he thrives off being that underdog, so I doubt coming to Australia will bother him,” Tszyu said. “But don’t expect a single person to be cheering for him.”
“I’m expecting a war and I’m expecting Mendoza to test me more than any other fighter.”
Mendoza, who arrived in Australia early last week, has emerged as something of a puncher and seven of his last eight victories have all come before the final bell and all but one of those were wrapped up inside five rounds.
But the Fundora fight, which lasted seven, was his first 12-rounder so Tszyu is the far more experienced in that sense, having had four of them and going the full distance twice.
This one, however, does not look like it will require any judges given the two styles and the level of punching power at play here. It has all the ingredients of a genuine barnburner given Tszyu’s all-action pressure-fighting style while Mendoza will be attempting to catch him on the way in. Tszyu is a heavy favourite with the bookmakers but it’s a closer fight than the price suggests.
Even so, a late stoppage victory for Tszyu, which will move him to 24-0 (18) is the pick here. Then him against Charlo becomes one of the most intriguing fights in the sport.
Tszyu-Mendoza is the main event of a seven-fight card promoted by No Limit Boxing, shown on Fox in Australia and Showtime in the US. At the time of writing there is no UK broadcaster.
There is, of course, Australian interest in every fight with the pick of the undercard coming at featherweight where undefeated New South Wales rising star Sam Goodman, 15-0 (7), faces Texas-based Miguel Flores in his first fight since drawing with Abner Mares in September 2022.
Goodman, meanwhile, has been active this year with two big wins over TJ Doheny and, in particular, Ra’eese Aleem. A well-schooled boxer with brilliant judgement of distance, he is ranked No.6 in the world at super-bantamweight but this fight has been made at feather. Expect him to win clearly on points.
Aside from those two 12-rounders, there are also two all-Aussie 10-rounders with Nathaniel May and Jackson Jon England meeting at super-featherweight while Sergei Vorobov faces Wade Ryan at light-middle.
Earlier, Shanell Dargan and Amber Amelia will clash in an eight-twos encounter while the undefeated Hassan Hamdan takes on Danvers Cuschieri in an eight-round Sydney derby.
THE VERDICT: The main event has all the ingredients of a fight of the year contender