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Is Tim Tszyu ready to face Charlo or Castano?

Image: Is Tim Tszyu ready to face Charlo or Castano?

By Jeff Aronow: Tim Tszyu looked vulnerable and defensively flawed in his 12 round unanimous decision victory last Saturday night against fringe contender Terrell Gausha at The Armory in Minneapolis.

Tszyu was knocked down in the first round by the non-puncher Gausha and squeaked out a decision by the scores:114-113, 116-111, and 115-112.

As the WBO mandatory to junior middleweight champion Brian Castano, Tszyu (21-0, 15 KOs) is expected to face the winner of his May 14th fight against Jermell Charlo.

Tszyu needs 4 to 6 tough fights

It’s pretty obvious that the 27-year-old Tszyu isn’t ready to fight either of those champions, and it would be criminal if he’s rushed into a fight against either without getting more experience.

We saw what happened when a raw Erickson Lubin was rushed into a fight against Jermell five years ago when he was destroyed by a first-round knockout.

It’s not too farfetched to picture Charlo doing the exact same thing to Tszyu, who is even less defensively sound than Lubin was when he was obliterated by him.

Lubin was only 21 at the time, but still had better defensive ability than we’re seeing from Tszyu. What we Tim needs is four or five quality fights to prepare him to challenge for a world title.

If Tszyu can bunch those four or five fights in a year’s time, he’d be ready to challenge for a world title by late 2023.  These are the fighters

I’d like to see Tszyu face BEFORE he challenges for a world title against Jermell or Castano:

  • Tony Harrison
  • Erickson Lubin
  • Sebastian Fundora
  • Carlos Adames
  • Israil Madrimov
  • Patrick Teixeira

If Tszyu can beat those guys, he’ll be ready to take on Castano or Charlo. Harrison is the most important fighter of that bunch because he has a lot of the skills that Tszyu will be dealing with when he fights Charlo or Castano.

It’s a waste of Tszyu’s time for him to fight the old fossil Liam Smith or Jessie Vargas. Those guys are lower gatekeeper level fighters, and they don’t possess the talent needed to help Tszyu prepare for the likes of Jermell or Castano.

Tszyu not ready for Charlo-Castano winner

“Tim Tszyu picked up a win last weekend, defeating Terrell Gausha by a unanimous decision. Tszyu is now the mandatory challenger for the winner of next month’s unification fight between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano,” said Chris Mannix on DAZN Boxing Show about Tim Tszyu beating Terrell Gausha to position himself for a title shot.

“Is Tim Tszyu ready for that level of fight?”

“Yes, he is. At 21-0, they’ve developed him perfectly, because he’s already faced what you want a contender to face,” said Sergio Mora on his view that Tszyu is ready to challenge the Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castano winner.

Image: Is Tim Tszyu ready to face Charlo or Castano?

“He’s faced a tough guy, he’s faced the undefeated fighters. He proved himself against Jeff Horn. He was able to stop a fighter that the great Manny Pacquiao wasn’t able to stop,” said Mora about Tszyu’s eighth-round knockout win over Horn in 2020.

“He was able to stop Dennis Hogan to the body, something that Jaime Munguia couldn’t do. He’s really developing unfolding the right way. At this point in his career, he’s a chip off the old great block. He looks like his father in a lot of ways.

“Not only in his face that he resembles him, but with the right hand. They don’t waste time with the right hand. It’s radar-like, and it’s short. It could be long or short, the uppercuts, the body shots.

“I really like the way they’ve promoted him and the way that they’ve moved him, and, yes, he’s ready for a title shot. I don’t know if it’s Charlo or Castano, but maybe someone below that, a former champion makes sense while they wait for the big fight,” said Mora about Tszyu.

“He’s either ready for a title shot or he’s not, and those two guys [Charlo and Castano] have all four belts,” said Mannix. “I don’t think he’s ready for that level of competition yet.

“There’s a lot to like about Tim Tszyu. He’s a tremendous offensive fighter. He averaged 71 punches per round in that fight against Gausha. He landed 93 body shots, a great number, especially in that junior middleweight division,” said Mannix.

If you believe that Tszyu is ready to challenge for a world title now, as Mora does, you’re basically saying he can’t improve.

It’s patently obvious that Tszyu needs a boatload of improvements in his game before he’s ready to challenge Charlo or Castano. Fighting either of those guys now would be insane, and it could wreck Tszyu’s career.

At the very least, a devastating loss for Tszyu would result in the boxing public losing interest in him, and it would take many years for him to rebuild their confidence.

For example, look at Erickson Lubin. It’s been five years since he was flattened in one round by Jermell Charlo in 2017, and he still hasn’t come all the way back from that defeat to where he was before the loss.

Tim’s defense is not good enough

“Offensively, he’s the goods, but I watch him, and he’s flat-footed,” said Mannix. “There’s not a lot of head movement to him. He’s deflecting some punches, but his defense needs a lot of work.

“He was fortunate in a way that he went up against someone that didn’t have the firepower in Gausha that some of the other top guys at junior middleweight.

“As I was watching that fight, if he fights Jermell Charlo, he’s going to get hit with something big. If he fights Brian Castano, he’s going to have Brian Castano in his chest the entire night, and I don’t know what he does with that.

I think Tim Tszyu needs at least one maybe two more fights before he’s ready for a Charlo-Castano opponent. I would love to see Tszyu take on Tony Harrison, who is coming back later next month.

“I’d like to see that type of competition before he steps up because the way he fights, I think someone is going to land something big, and I think Tszyu is going to go down for the count.”

“No, as always, you’re wrong,” said Mora. “Have you ever seen his father, Kostya Tszyu fight? Kostya Tszyu is a Hall of Famer, and he was flat-footed.

“He wasn’t the upper body movement type, but that’s what makes them punch so hard. They dig deep and they have great technique, they have great timing, especially with the left hand and the uppercut.

“Kostya Tszyu, his father, was a great fighter. You see similarities with Tim Tszyu. They have the exact same type of style, and obviously, they’re related. I think he’s ready. That’s just their style.

“You’re not going to have the upper body movement, and you’re not going to have the lateral movement because that’s not their style. They dig down and they have great upper body momentum where they know how to time you. They don’t pull back too much.

“They don’t go laterally. They stay in the pocket and look for the right counters and they punch really hard and that’s why they get away with it,” said Mora about Tim and Kostya Tszyu’s style.

“He was knocked down in the first round by Gausha,” said Mannix.

Let’s be honest. Tszyu has NO defense. His defense is his offense, and he doesn’t hit hard enough to keep his opponents from taking advantage of his inability to defend himself.

If Tszyu possessed Julian Jackson-type power, yeah, he could get away with standing in front of his opponents without the ability to defend, but he doesn’t. Jackson’s power was on a whole another level than Tszyu’s.

Tszyu needs more experience

“Exchanging punches, and Gausha has been in there with the absolute best at junior middleweight. He was an Olympian, this guy is the goods,” said Mora. “Gausha was a hard guy to face in the U.S in his debut and he passed it. Tim Tszyu passed it and that’s what you want to see.”

“When you look at the opponents that Tim Tszyu has faced up until this point, there aren’t any punchers on that resume,” said Mannix. “He has faced Dennis Hogan, not a puncher. He’s faced Jeff Horn in the twilight of his career.

“This is a guy [Tszyu] with a limited amateur background that hasn’t faced any heavy hitters in the junior middleweight division. I don’t know how you can look at that performance by Tim Tszyu and not say if he goes up against someone that can crack a little bit, the lack of head movement, the lack of foot movement, that can leave you vulnerable to getting knocked out.

“I think he needs more work. He’s still a young guy, he can get a world title shot down the line, but I’d like to see him face one or two more guys that are in the in-between level before he gets to the championship level.”

“Alright, one more fight, I might agree with you, but I think he is ready for a championship level fighter because he has the confidence, he has the power and he obviously has the lineage,” said Mora.

“How about the winner of Jessie Vargas and Liam Smith? That makes perfect sense. Two guys that have never been knocked out, and have been in the championship level.

“Actually, Liam Smith has been knocked out, but two guys that are about to fight. The winner of that fight in a couple of weeks. That makes perfect sense, and it’s great to have a former champion on your resume. So, yes, one more fight, and he’s ready for a Castano – Charlo winner.”

“I can’t believe I agree with you, but I love Tim Tszyu vs. the winner of Jessie Vargas vs. Liam Smith. This is just the kind of bridge fight he needs before he gets to the championship level,” said Mannix.

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