Tszyu dropped and stopped former WBC super welterweight champ Tony Harrison in the ninth round of their fight for the WBO interim junior middleweight title Sunday afternoon at Qudos Bank Arena in Tszyu’s hometown of Sydney, Australia. The stronger, younger Tszyu rocked Harrison with two right hands that hurt Harrison badly with just over a minute to go in the ninth round.
Tszyu (22-0, 16 KOs) pounced on the dazed, defenseless Harrison and unloaded a series of right uppercuts on him as Harrison backed into the ropes. Detroit’s Harrison (29-4-1, 21 KOs) eventually fell to the canvas with 39 seconds to go in the ninth round after absorbing a right hand to the side of his head and a left hook.
Harrison answered referee Danrex Tapdasan’s count at eight, but Tapdasan stopped their 12-round bout because he didn’t think Harrison should continue. The official time of the stoppage was 2:43 of the ninth round.
“You know what? I was smart,” Tszyu said during his post-fight interview in the ring. “I was smart. I knew he had a jab, so I had to be smart about it because the opponent that I had in front of me, he’s the man that beat the man, which means I just beat the man who beat the man. What does that make me?”
A much more aggressive Tszyu applied pressure on Harrison throughout their bout and consistently landed the flusher punches. The 32-year-old Harrison’s jab was effective at times, but he didn’t land many power punches and never seemed to affect Tszyu with his shots.
“The better man won tonight,” said Harrison, who lost by knockout or technical knockout for the fourth time in his 11-year pro career. “And, you know, this city is electric, the crowd was electric. And, like I said, the better man won tonight. … The better man won tonight. I ain’t gonna, you know, give my assessment of him. The better man won tonight. That’s all I can say, is the better man won tonight. He on to bigger and better things. And, you know, I don’t know where I’ll go from here.”
All three judges – Hungary’s Zoltan Enyedi (77-75), Japan’s Katsuhiko Nakamura (77-75) and Canada’s Benoit Roussel (77-75) – surprisingly had Tszyu in front by the same slim margin through eight rounds of action.
Nevertheless, by beating the only opponent who has defeated fully unified 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo, Tszyu maintained his status as the mandatory challenger for Charlo’s WBO belt.
Tszyu, 28, is expected to challenge Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) in his next fight for the fully unified champion’s IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO titles. Houston’s Charlo stated during Showtime’s coverage of Tszyu-Harrison on Saturday night in the United States that the two fractures in his left hand are healing according to schedule and should enable him to box by the end of this summer.
In the round before Tszyu finished him, Harrison slipped on a wet spot on the canvas with approximately 25 seconds to go in the eighth round. Tapdasan then called for a break in the action, so that the spot could be wiped up.
A rare right hand by Harrison made Tszyu take a step backward 50 seconds into the eighth round. Tszyu drilled Harrison with a right hand a little more than 20 seconds into the eighth round.
Harrison remained on his back foot for all of the seventh round, when Tszyu pressed forward and occasionally connected with right hands.
Tszyu backed Harrison into the ropes and unloaded power punches on him with about 30 seconds to go in the sixth round.
Harrison’s left-right combination connected about 40 seconds into the sixth round. Tszyu’s left hook landed flush less than 20 seconds into the sixth round.
A left-right combination by Tszyu staggered Harrison with just over 20 seconds on the clock in the fifth round.
Tszyu’s right hand snapped back Harrison’s head with 1:45 to go in the fifth round. A stiff jab by Tszyu helped keep Harrison stationary long enough for Tszyu to drill him with a right hand barely 20 seconds into the fifth round.
After a troublesome third round, Harrison’s jab enabled him to keep Tszyu at a distance for much of the fourth round. Tszyu’s right hand stopped Harrison in his tracks with 1:20 to go in the fourth round.
Tszyu drilled Harrison with a right hand that Harrison took well late in the third round, but Harrison came back with a left hook that made Tszyu retreat. Tszyu wobbled Harrison with a right hand that knocked Harrison into a corner with approximately 1:05 to go in the third round.
Tszyu landed two right hands that knocked Harrison off balance about 50 seconds into the third round.
A right uppercut by Tszyu made Harrison hold him with just under a minute remaining in the second round.
Harrison and Tszyu traded right hands a few seconds after the midway mark of the second round. Tszyu landed a left hook barely 15 seconds into the second round, which amounted to a much more productive three minutes for Tszyu than the first round.
Harrison effectively utilized his jab throughout the first round, when Tszyu came forward and mostly missed with his infrequent power punches. Tszyu connected with a right hand with just over five seconds to go in the opening round, but Harrison clearly controlled it with his jab.
Prior to stopping Harrison, Tszyu was already the WBO’s mandatory challenger for one of Charlo’s championships, but he took what on paper appeared to be a significant risk by boxing Harrison once his own fight against Charlo was postponed.
Charlo was supposed to defend his IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO titles versus Tszyu on January 28 at Mandalay Bay’s Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. Their fight was officially postponed December 24 because Charlo fractured two bones in his left hand while sparring a few days earlier.
Tszyu didn’t want to extend his lengthy layoff by waiting for Charlo’s hand to heal, thus his handlers pushed the WBO to have him fight for its interim championship.
Tszyu expected to battle Bakhram Murtazaliev (21-0, 15 KOs), but Russia’s Murtazaliev, who is ranked second by the WBO, turned down the fight. The third-ranked Harrison happily accepted a chance to knock off Tszyu and secure a third fight against Charlo, who knocked out Harrison in the 11th round of their rematch in December 2019 at Toyota Arena in Ontario, California.
In his previous fight, Harrison upset Charlo by unanimous decision in their 12-round fight for Charlo’s WBC belt in December 2018 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
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