“It’s hunting season!”
That’s Tim Tszyu’s reaction to news from the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) that the 26-year-old has been mandated to fight for the super welterweight world title, currently held by Argentine Brian Castaño.
The WBO made the announcement via email to Tszyu’s promoters at No Limit, finalising weeks of discussion around whether the Australian would be elevated to mandatory status.
“It’s massive! There’s been a lot of hard work and it comes down to the fact I’ve been so active – fighting consistently against former challengers and champions, and the WBO has recognised that,” says Tszyu.
“I’ve been fighting in big fights, here at home in Australia, and the world has been watching. Now we are at a very exciting time.”
The WBO has not placed a timeframe on negotiations for Tszyu’s title shot, with a unification rematch between Castaño and Jermell Charlo still a possibility.
That potential rematch largely hinges on whether Charlo is forced to fight his IBF mandatory Bakhram Murtazaliev but regardless of how the situation plays out Tszyu is poised to fight the holder of the WBO belt in 2022.
“This is huge news for Australian boxing and a massive day in the professional career of Tim Tszyu,” says No Limit’s George Rose.
“Hopefully Tim gets his shot at Castaño next but if they do have a rematch then Tim will fight whoever wins between Castaño and Charlo.”
Tszyu has declared his willingness to fight for the title in the US but the strong preference remains to bring the world title fight to Australia.
“I think the Aussie fans deserve a fight like this,” says Tszyu.
“It will be great to have all eyes on Australia and the best part is that these guys can’t run any longer. It’s hunting season and I’m coming to take it all.”
The Australian has welcomed a clash with either Castaño or Charlo and believes he has a score to settle with both.
“Castaño obviously doesn’t want the fight – his team has made that pretty clear – but there’s no more running now. He seems to think he’s someone he’s not but he is the champion and now I’m the mandatory,” says Tszyu.
“And Charlo is arrogant. He has had a few things to say about where I fit into the mix. Well, it’s pretty clear where I am at now so he has to get used to that.”
No Limit plans to proceed with a November date for Tszyu regardless of the outcome of negotiations given their belief that Castaño won’t fight again in 2021. American former world champion Tony Harrison remains the preferred opponent.
“It was staying active that got me to this point so that’s what I will keep doing,” says Tszyu.
“If Castaño isn’t available I think Harrison is a good option – and there’s a few others. Then next year we fight for the belt or for all the belts if they are unified.”
“These guys all have big plans but so do I. It’s my time now.”
Words: Ben Damon