‘Better than Charlo’: Tszyu’s take on Harrison ahead of title fight

Tim Tszyu believes the real prize on offer in his world title fight against Tony Harrison on Sunday may still not be up for grabs once it’s over.

The winner of the bout will earn the WBO super-welterweight interim belt, but the real reward is the chance to take on Jermell Charlo and take his mantle as the undisputed champion. Charlo has hinted that he will soon move up a weight class, where twin brother Jermall holds the WBC belt.

However, Tszyu believes he will produce such a comprehensive display against Harrison, that Jermell Charlo will fast-track the weight-class jump in order to avoid him.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he moves up after this,” Tszyu said. “Charlo vacates and moves up; that’s your headline on Monday.”

Tszyu and Harrison again came face-to-face at a press conference on Friday at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. The pair are polar opposites in and out of the ring; Harrison, the fast-talking American, arrived shirtless while Tszyu looked dapper in a designer Liondos suit after being dropped off in a pick-up truck.

While the pair engaged in banter, most of it friendly, Tszyu showed his respect for Harrison by describing him as an even tougher opponent than four-belt champion Charlo.

Tony Harrison turned up to his press conference shirtless.Credit:SMH

“For sure,” Tszyu told the Herald. “Beating someone of that calibre before a definite undisputed unification, will give me my respect. That’s what I want.”

Harrison is the only man to inflict a defeat on Charlo, via a unanimous decision victory in Brooklyn in 2018. Harrison was leading their rematch a year later before Charlo landed a series of left hooks in the 11th round to earn a knockout victory. There were suggestions that Charlo would fly to Sydney to be ringside for the bout, but that will not be the case.

“He’s got more skills than Charlo, more tools,” Tszyu said. “But in boxing we know there are a range of different things. If you’ve got power, you can’t just rely on power. If you’ve got speed, you can just rely on speed and timing.

“You’ve got to be sound overall in everything.”

Tim Tszyu knows Tony Harrison will be his biggest challenge yet.Credit:SMH

Most pundits expect Tszyu to force the pace, while Harrison will use his speed and guile to counter. However, the Australian is prepared for whatever eventuates.

“I think he might move forward, try to put me back, which will be interesting because he will be easier to hit,” Tszyu said.

“It will be an interesting fight, I’m ready for everything. If he tries to bring the pressure, I will be ready.

Tszyu had been scheduled to fight Charlo in January, only for the bout to be postponed due to a hand injury the American suffered in training. Tszyu could have waited for Charlo to recover, but instead risked his shot at the undisputed crown by taking on Harrison first.

Tszyu’s manager Glen Jennings – who was also in the corner of Tszyu’s father, hall-of-famer Kostya – said this could be the last time the 28-year-old fights in Australia.

“This may well be the last time anyone sees Tim here,” Jennings said. “The truth of it is that to net those big-dollar fights, most of them are overseas-based. That’s not to say his promoters, No Limit, won’t try, but this fight here is an added bonus because Tim was going to fight Charlo in Las Vegas and you don’t know when you’ll get the chance to see him here again.”

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