Paulie Malignaggi’s Picks: Forget Spence and Crawford, Tszyu Deserves Fundora Rematch

For Sebastian Fundora and his team, it could come down to what’s more important to him – money, or ethics.

Tim Tszyu rescued the launch of Premier Boxing Champions on Amazon Prime by agreeing to fight him after Keith Thurman, a very different fighter, withdrew through injury. He was also paid less money for the privilege. If he hadn’t done so, the entire card was at risk of being pulled.

I don’t think Fundora would have beaten Tszyu if Tszyu hadn’t got so horrible a cut. I also don’t think he’d beat him in a rematch if Tszyu has a full training camp to prepare for him – or beat Errol Spence, if Spence still has enough left. The danger of defeat exists, regardless of which of the three – Terence Crawford has also been spoken about – likely opponents Fundora fights next.

None of that is to say that Fundora’s a bad fighter. He’s actually a very good one. But Tszyu, Crawford and potentially Spence – who appears a favourite of PBC – are all very difficult opponents.

A rematch between Tszyu and Fundora would be a much bigger fight than their first one was. The drama that unfolded in Las Vegas makes a rematch seem very logical, but Fundora’s next move could yet be heavily influenced by PBC, or by Amazon Prime. When I was still an active fighter there was a lot of momentum for a rematch between me and Adrien Broner, but the promoter and TV network decided to take Broner in another direction and six months later got Broner beat – so regardless of the optics to the naked eye, the existence of momentum can count for little.

It’s not so long ago we were being told that Crawford was being stripped of his IBF welterweight title because of Spence’s desire to activate his clause for a rematch between them. Today, they seem likelier to fight Fundora than each other, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Spence isn’t targeting Fundora, and his WBO and WBC light-middleweight titles, to strengthen his hand before a future date with Crawford. Outside of Spence and perhaps Tszyu, Crawford doesn’t seem to have a big-money fight at 154lbs, which doesn’t make Fundora seem a likely next move for him, even if winning a world title in another weight division enhances his legacy.

At a time when there’s speculation surrounding Spence’s relationship with Derrick James it’s worth acknowledging the success they’ve had together. I don’t see why a loss to a fighter like Crawford should affect their chemistry; I also don’t see what a fighter as developed as Spence is going to change at the age of 34. 

Similarly, there’s no need for a big rebuild in Tszyu’s career after a defeat like that. The obvious move for him is a rematch with Fundora. There are a lot of moving parts that need to be in the right place for that rematch to happen, but with the momentum behind it and how entertained people were by their first fight – plus with the narrative that exists off the back of their first fight – an immediate rematch should, regardless of how often fighters receive what they deserve, happen next.

If the rematch happens, and Tszyu impresses and wins, a fight between him and either Spence or Crawford is bigger than a fight between either of those two and Fundora. If he doesn’t impress then a third fight with Fundora could even be an option. There seems too little reason for Fundora-Tszyu II not to happen in the coming months.