Busy Tszyu in pursuit of big fights earns respect but now must get by Mendoza

Tim Tszyu is winning more fans over with every fight.

The Australian puncher, and son of legend Kostya, is 23-0 as a pro with 17 stoppage victories and in the last two years he has beaten Dennis Hogan, Steve Spark, Takeshi Inoue, Terrell Gausha, Tony Harrison and Carlos Ocampo.

Many thought Tszyu would sit in a mandatory position, or at least in a high-ranking spot, and wait his turn for a big contest, but he has stayed busy, kept learning and is one of the most-improved fighters in the sport.

Tszyu is the interim WBO super-welterweight champion and now goes into a fight with Brain Mendoza, 22-2 (16KOs) on October 15 in Australia (October 14 for a US audience).

By the time they step into the ring, Tszyu might have been elevated to be the full champion because Jermell Charlo’s full belt will likely be vacant once Charlo fights Canelo on September 30 in Las Vegas.

Tszyu had been in line to face Charlo, so the Canelo curveball has forced him to explore other options. In his last fight, Mendoza became the first man to defeat towering Sebastian Fundora, whom he stopped in seven rounds.

“We’re the two next pitbulls in the division,” Tszyu proclaimed. “It’s a tremendous challenge and I look forward to taking it with both hands. 

“We’re the two top dogs in the super-welterweight division because the other [Charlo] bloke did a runner. Number one versus number one."

Charlo is, of course, moving up two weight classes to take on Canelo, in a far more lucrative clash than the Tszyu fight would have been. It seemed like Charlo-Tszyu had been on tap for ages, especially after Tszyu rolled the dice and defeated the more-experienced Harrison.

Mendoza’s two losses both came on points, to Larry Gomez – who beat him via split decision over eight rounds – and Jesus Alejandro Ramos Jr, who outpointed him over 10 rounds two years ago.

Boxing insiders have praised Tszyu’s willingness not to just keep busy, but at a high level.

“In all honesty I couldn’t care less about what he’s done,” Tszyu said of Mendoza, who can clearly bang. “I’m focusing on myself. I couldn’t care less about his knockouts and his ability. We’re both coming off big, big wins and it’s going to be a cracking fight.”

Tszyu is solidifying his claim as a legit fighter in his own right, a tough thing to do when you descend from royal, Hall of Fame boxing blood.

Tszyu praised Mendoza’s underdog mentality and admitted he’s had a good career but ultimately saw Mendoza, who lives in Las Vegas but originates from New Mexico, as a stepping stone.

Mendoza, however, is happy to be second-favourite heading to Australia in a couple of months.
“This is my comfort zone,” Mendoza declared. “I’ve found comfort in being uncomfortable…. When I’m up against odds like this, those are the fights you get up for.”





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