A critical look at the past week in boxing
There are levels to boxing, as they say. Tszyu started as a novelty in terms of perception, just another son of a once great fighter (Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu). Then we realized that he had enough ability to become a legitimate contender. And now, after a series of dominating performances, it seems that he has evolved into an elite fighter who might replicate the accomplishments of his famous father. Tsyzu’s latest success came this past Saturday in his native Australia, where, in typically brutal fashion, he methodically dismantled a solid opponent in Brian Mendoza over 12 rounds to retain his newly awarded 154-pound title. Tszyu (24-0, 17 K0s) doesn’t do any specific thing extraordinarily well but his lack of an obvious weakness makes him an extraordinary fighter. Of course, time will tell how extraordinary. He could be on a collision course with a man he has been chasing for some time, fellow beltholder Jermell Charlo, who said he intends to move back down to 154 after his failed challenge of Canelo Alvarez. Charlo is a next-level fighter at a more-natural weight, one with a combination of ability, speed and power Tszyu has yet to face. I would pick Charlo to win that fight but the gap between them has narrowed significantly, particularly after Charlo’s disappointing effort against Alvarez. That’s the ultimate matchup for Tszyu. If he gets that fight and wins, it would remove any remaining doubt about his ability and lift him to pound-for-pound status. Tszyu could be on his way to becoming a star.
Jermall Charlo’s ongoing hiatus from boxing has created a void at the top of the 160-pound division, one which Janibek Alimkhanuly (15-0, 10 KOs) is happy to fill. The former amateur world champion from Kazakhstan destroyed Vincenzo Gualtieri (21-1-1, 7 KOs) to unify two titles on Saturday in Texas, winning by a sixth-round knockout. Alimkhanuly has yet to face a top tier opponent but he passes the eye test. He seems to have all the ingredients to become a star. … Mendoza (22-3, 16 KOs) learned about levels the hard way. His knockout victims Jeison Rosario and Sebastian Fundora are on one level, Tszyu is on another. Mendoza was competitive for the early portion of the fight but faded in the later rounds, as he lacked the tools to neutralize Tszyu’s increasingly punishing attack. The Albuquerque fighter shouldn’t be written off, however, His big victories made it clear that he’s a quality fighter. He’s not finished. … I’ll never understand the appeal of the YouTubers-turned-boxers. I admire their ability to market themselves but their antics are boring and their ability almost non-existent, which doesn’t seem to bother those who find them interesting. Logan Paul fought Dillon Danis and Tommy Fury faced KSI in Manchester, England on Saturday. I couldn’t bring myself to care.