Tim Tszyu’s reign as the WBO junior middleweight champion began successfully as he beat Brian Mendoza via a unanimous decision. The judges ringside scored the bout (116-112), (116-111), and (117-111), which doesn’t properly represent the amount of consistent damage that Tszyu inflicted on Mendoza across the fight.
With the fight behind him, Tszyu and his handlers are looking at staging his next fight in either February or March of 2024. Tszyu has long made it clear that he would like to face Jermell Charlo, the WBC, WBA, and IBF belt holder, and has recently called for a fight against Canelo Alvarez, though it’s hard to imagine either of those scenarios playing out in February or March given Charlo’s desire to face Crawford and Canelo reserving the Mexican holidays as his fight dates.
“Anytime from February or March onwards, really. As far as what Tim’s next fight is and when that is, it’ll depend on the opponent. We’ll be working on that over the next month,” said promoter George Rose.
Tszyu, now a reigning champion, has a goal to earn the other belts within his division. A quick observation of the junior middleweight landscape highlights an interesting name that could align with Tszyu’s goals.
As we reported last week, the IBF has ordered Jermell Charlo to face Bakhram Murtazaliev. They have until November 9th to make a deal or a purse bid will be scheduled.
BREAKING: IBF ordered junior middleweight champion @TwinCharlo to next make a long overdue IBF mandatory defense vs. unbeaten Bakhram Murtazaliev, who has already taken multiple step-aside deals. They have until Nov. 9 to make a deal or a purse bid will be scheduled. #boxing
— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) October 10, 2023
If Charlo opts to not face Murtazaliev, the IBF would strip Charlo and decide whether to stage a fight for the vacant belt or to name Murtazaliev champion, similar to what the WBO did for Tszyu. This would provide an ideal opportunity for Tszyu to set up a fight with the IBF belt on the line.
The future landscape of the junior middleweight division is unclear beyond Tszyu being the reigning WBO champion, though we should get more clarity in the coming weeks once the IBF follows up on their ruling.