It was “weird” for Tim Tszyu to watch the submissive version of Jermell Charlo that fought Canelo Alvarez on Saturday night.
Charlo’s junior middleweight rival respects the irritable, tenacious Charlo that became boxing’s first undisputed 154-pound champion of the four-belt era. The newly crowned WBO junior middleweight champion didn’t get the sense, though, that Charlo genuinely tried to beat Alvarez in their 12-round fight for the Mexican icon’s IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO super middleweight titles.
“I think Charlo was there just to survive, in my opinion,” Tszyu told BoxingScene.com. “He didn’t have any competitiveness in him. The Charlo that fought Brian Castano wanted to win, you know? This Canelo fight, there was – I don’t know – he never wanted to win. It was like he was there just to take part, not to get knocked out, play it smart, move around and come out not a winner. That’s how I see it.”
Dissatisfied fans and critical media members have expressed similar sentiments to Tszyu’s take on a forgettable fight that an aggressive, accurate Alvarez won convincingly on points at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Judge Steve Weisfeld (119-108) scored only one round for Charlo, who won two rounds apiece according to judges Max De Luca (118-109) and David Sutherland (118-109).
Alvarez nailed Charlo with a right hand to the side of his head that caused Charlo to take a knee several seconds later, approximately a minute into the seventh round of their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event. Charlo mostly managed to avoid comparable punches after going down for just the second time in his 15-year, 38-fight professional career, but the Australian star expected a much more effective, entertaining effort from Charlo in Charlo’s 168-pound debut.
“It was weird,” Tszyu said. “If you’re given an opportunity to fight for undisputed, to create legacy, you go straight at it. Even in between the rounds, his coach [Derrick James] was going off, saying, ‘Man, you’re losing the fight. You gotta actually go out and win.’ And as soon as the round started, he would go out on his same back foot, throw a couple jabs. A lot of the time it was just defense. He was just thinking about defense, not getting knocked out.”
Sydney’s Tszyu was scheduled to challenge Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KOs) for the Houston native’s IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 154-pound crowns January 28 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. Charlo withdrew from that “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event because he suffered two fractures in his left hand during a sparring session a few days before last Christmas.
Charlo-Tszyu was never rescheduled because Charlo eventually chose to take a bigger payday and a rare opportunity to become an undisputed champion in a second division versus Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs). Tszyu was therefore elevated from interim 154-pound champion to full champion by the WBO as soon as Charlo entered the ring to battle Alvarez.
Charlo fought for the first time Saturday night since he knocked out Argentina’s Castano (17-1-2, 12 KOs) in the 10th round of their rematch in May 2022 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Tszyu (23-0, 17 KOs) will defend his WBO belt against WBC interim champ Brian Mendoza (22-2, 16 KOs) on October 15 at Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in Broadbeach, Australia. Showtime will televise Tszyu-Mendoza live as the main event of a “Showtime Championship Boxing” doubleheader the night of October 14 in the United States.
The 33-year-old Charlo confirmed during his post-fight press conference following his lopsided loss to Alvarez that he will move back down to the 154-pound division for his next fight. Charlo indicated that his return to the ring could come against the Tszyu-Mendoza winner.
Fighting Tszyu, who is listed as an 8-1 favorite by DraftKings, or Mendoza would afford Charlo the opportunity to re-establish himself as the sport’s undisputed 154-pound champion because Charlo still owns the IBF, WBA and WBC belts. Tszyu stated during the abovementioned interview that he feels like he still needs to beat Charlo to legitimize himself as the best fighter in their division.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.