Tszyu Vs. Thurman Takes Unexpected Turn: WBO Title Off, Catchweight Clash On
The March 30th clash between Tim Tszyu and Keith Thurman won’t be for Tsyu’s WBO junior middleweight title in their 12-round headliner on Amazon Prime PPV in Las Vegas. Instead, the Tszyu-Thurman contest will take place at 155-lb catchweight at middleweight.
ESPN reports that the World Boxing Organization has “declined to sanction” the Tszyu vs. Thurman fight for their WBO junior middleweight title, which makes a lot of sense. The Tszyu-Thurman oddity will still happen, but it won’t be for the WBO’s 154-lb title.
Why The Change?
The 35-year-old former WBC & WBA welterweight champion Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs) has these things that prevent him from fighting for Tszyu’s WBO 154-lb title:
- Thurman unranked in WBO’s top 15 at 154
- He hasn’t fought in 29 months
- Never competed at 154
- Unranked in WBO’s top 15 at 147
If the WBO had agreed to sanction the Tszyu vs. Thurman fight for their 154-lb title, they would have received massive heat from fans, fighters ranked in their top 15, and the promoters.
It wouldn’t have been fair for Thurman, a fighter who hasn’t fought solid years and is unranked at 154, to be given an undeserving title shot against WBO junior middleweight champion Tszyu.
This kind of fight would have made a joke of the sport and put it in the realm of celebrity, YouTuber, or professional wrestling, or those joke fights between British heavyweights and the former MMA guy. Somebody has got to put their foot down, and the WBO has decided to be the one to uphold the honor of the sport.
What Does This Mean?
The 29-year-old Australian Tszyu and the inactive Thurman will still fight, and boxing fans will likely be just as interested in this contest as they would have been if the WBO 154-lb belt had been at stake.
It’s a match that will attract interest, particularly among older fans who remember when Thurman was still fighting many years ago.
For the most part, Thurman stopped fighting after his war with Danny Garcia in 2017, and he’s only competed three times in the last seven years. That fight took a lot out of Thurman, and he’s rarely been seen since.
This fight allows Tszyu to face a notable opponent, albeit one from the past, which should help his popularity with older fans. Ideally, Tszyu should focus on fighting relevant fighters from this era to help him increase his appeal.