Fighting in the shadow of both his Hall of Fame father and his division’s undisputed champion, unbeaten junior middleweight Tim Tszyu used Saturday’s return against Tony Harrison to send a message.
Tszyu (22-0, 16 KOs) relied on poise and deliberate pressure to slowly break down Harrison (29-4-1, 21 KOs) before punctuating the biggest win of his career with a brutal stoppage late. The 9th-round TKO, held inside Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia, saw Tszyu capture the WBO interim title and secure a shot at junior middleweight king Jermell Charlo’s four world titles.
After the fight, Tszyu put a resounding exclamation point on his statement by regaling his home crowd with an impassioned speech.
“I’ve got one sentence: what’s my motherf—ing name?” Tszyu said. “This is what the f— this is all about, every single one of you. What’s my motherf—ing name? Say my motherf—ing name!”
The 28-year-old Tszyu was originally scheduled to face Charlo in January until a left hand injury forced the champion to withdraw. Tszyu chose to stay busy instead against the 32-year-old Harrison, a former WBC champion, who remains the only fighter to have defeated Charlo.
With Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) watching from a New York studio as a special guest on the Showtime Boxing International telecast, Tszyu returned a much more efficient and composed fighter than last March, when he was dropped in the opening round against Terrell Gausha in his U.S. debut before battling back to claim a hard-fought decision.
Tszyu staggered Harrison halfway across the ring in Round 3 with a looping counter right hand that forced Harrison into a defensive posture for the remainder of the fight. Tszyu was not only able to pin Harrison against the ropes with ease, he held his distance patiently enough to prevent his opponent from exiting.
In Round 9, Harrison’s walls finally began to crumble as a trio of hard right hands staggered him into the ropes. Tszyu swarmed in and landed four of the five right uppercuts he threw in succession before a vicious right cross dropped Harrison.
Referee Danrex Tapdasan, who allowed Harrison to absorb far too much punishment before the knockdown, waved off the fight at 2:49 after Harrison rose to his feet to beat the count but remained unsteady.
“He was impressive. He did what he had to do at home,” Charlo said. “He was a little flat to me but my movement, my style and my power will make him do completely different things. When I get my [left] hand right and get back into the ring for training, put that tape in. That will work.
“This is exactly what we had seen. He comes forward but is not as fast. He’s strong, of course, but aren’t we all? I’m a different animal in there than Tony.”
Tszyu appeared to have dominated the majority of the fight yet only led 77-75 on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage. He outlanded Harrison by a margin of 131 to 78, according to CompuBox, and connected on an impressive 45% of his power shots. Tszyu also held a 29 to 7 advantage in body shots landed, which further slowed down Harrison’s movement.
“I was smart. I knew he had a jab so I had to be smart about it,” Tszyu said. “The competitor I had in front of me, he was the man who beat the man. But I just beat that man so what does that make me?”
Although Harrison had success with his jab, he appeared weary to let his right hand go given the punching distance Tszyu operated from. Of the four losses in Harrion’s pro career, all four have come by stoppage.
“I trained extremely hard for the fight but the better man won tonight,” Harrison said. “He will go on to bigger and better things. I don’t know where I go from here.”
Asked after the fight whether Charlo would be next, Tszyu agreed.
“The message [to Charlo] was sent clearly,” Tszyu said. “You know what’s up, you know what’s next. I’m coming to America.”