By Hector T. Morgan
Smack talk is part of the game when it comes to boxing. The quest for edge, for attention and the need to nurture ego and project self-belief has prompted thousands of fighters to diminish potential opponents and boast of their own dominance. Jermell Charlo is one such fighter. In a social media world where the background noise is high, getting noticed, particularly when fighters box so infrequently, is often as arduous as the fights.
Since his knockout victory against Jeison Rosario in September 2020, the 31-year-old American has held the WBA (Super), WBC, IBF, and The Ring light middleweight titles. Charlo is an outstanding fighter. But to transcend, to stretch to the weightier purses of those who passed before him. He needs bums on seats and eyeballs on his career.
Next on the agenda is a bout with 31-year-old Argentine boxer Brian Castaño, who currently holds the WBO title, which Charlo is keen to add to his collection of belts. Scheduled for July 17 at the Barclays Center in New York, Charlo could become the undisputed light middleweight champion. Charlo is the outright 2/5 boxing betting favourite ahead of this eagerly anticipated contest, indicating that bookmakers are fairly certain he will match expectations. Nevertheless, nobody will be taking Castaño for granted due to his 7/4 odds, after he emerged victorious against Brazilian fighter Patrick Teixeira in February this year, taking the WBO light middleweight title.
Given the prospect of a unified and undisputed light middleweight champion, either Charlo or Castaño will have their pick of possible opponents, bringing lucrative opportunities as promotors get scrambling to line up further headline fights. Boasting an impressive unbeaten record of 18 fights and 14 wins via knockout, Tim Tszyu is inevitably one name being mentioned already.
Hailing from Australia, 26-year-old Tszyu has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the light middleweight division, which is also sometimes referred to as super welterweight by American boxing journalists. The most recent victory for Tszyu came against Dennis Hogan of Ireland, winning by TKO after five rounds in March this year.
As one of just three fighters amongst the top ten super welterweight challengers with an unbeaten record, Tszyu and his promotors No Limit have now set their sights on bigger things. They have already thrown down the gauntlet to either Charlo or Castaño, ready to face the winner of their bout in July.
However, as talk began to increase about that being a realistic possibility, any such notion has been met with a stinging refusal from Charlo, who held nothing back in comments published at Fox Sports. “Tszyu is not on a level to even fight for a world title,” believes Charlo, before going on to underline his opinion in more explicit detail.
“He ain’t even on the level to fight some of the guys that I’ve knocked…out,” said Charlo, suggesting there was absolutely “no chance” of Tszyu getting the bout of his dreams. Charlo wasn’t even tempted by talk of a bumper $10 million purse, rumored to have been tabled as an opening offer by promotors.
In the meantime, it appears that Tszyu will have to keep biding his time, starting with the next fight scheduled for July 7, when he will take on fellow Australian boxer Michael Zerafa. Widely expected to extend his unbeaten record, Tszyu will be hoping his promotors can secure bigger bouts against much higher profile opponents in the months to come.