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  • Writer's pictureRichard Jimenez

The Fundora Reign Is Here

Just after Premier Boxing Champions’ debut pay-per-view main event on Amazon Prime Video, PBC correspondent Claudia Trejos asked Tim Tszyu, who had just lost a split decision to Sebastian Fundora, about his efforts  following a cut to the head in the early rounds. In response, Tszyu was firm:

“This is boxing, this is part of the sport. These things happen. Congratulations to Fundora – he's the new king of the 154.”
A bloody Sebastian Fundora

Photo: Ryan Hafey/PBC

And he’s right. Even under the circumstances and expectations leading into this fight, Tim Tszyu’s statement after losing should not be read as courtesy in spite of frustration (which it may have well been). It should be taken as a matter of fact: Because Keith Thurman got injured, because Jermell Charlo was stripped, and because “The Towering Inferno” was already on the card and available to step in against Tszyu on short notice, Sebastian Fundora is now the holder of the WBO and WBC Junior Middleweight Championship belts. What was a brief interregnum has become the Fundora reign. He's the king. 

Coming into the matchup, it felt to me like a respectable stopgap fight for the Australian champion Tszyu before a bigger fight against the current 147-pound. undisputed champion, Terence Crawford.  Fundora has been a contender in the weight class, but with his last fight resulting in a knockout from Brian Mendoza, the odds were set against him. For his part, Crawford announced that he would be pursuing the WBO super champion status to compel a championship match against the Tszyu-Fundora winner. After Jermell Charlo’s fall from the Junior Middleweight championship podium, it felt certain that Tim Tszyu would position himself to campaign for undisputed, and that this fight would only build his credibility to launch the campaign.

The first round saw Tszyu snap Fundora’s head back, closing in strong against the taller fighter. Even without a knockdown, Tszyu left no doubt the direction that the fight was going after one round. But an unexpected gash on Tszyu’s head from a crash into Fundora elbow in the second round would kick off 30 minutes of carnage for the Prime audience. This cut created an opening for Fundora that he couldn’t have imagined when he woke up the day Keith Thurman, Tszyu’s original opponent, announced his injury 12 days ago. 

He was a sharp fighter in a gory unification, controlling his distance against a tiring and blinded Tszyu. Tszyu cut his head in the second round, causing his face and eyes to be covered in his own blood for the remainder of the fight. The increasing difficulty to see led Tim Tszyu to expend considerable energy pursuing a knockout, and Fundora’s jab work kept Tszyu’s power at bay. After a victory in one of the bloodiest fights I’ve seen, Fundora is in control of the future of super welterweight division.

All credit to Tszyu for finishing this fight, as his cut warranted several referee timeouts at the beginning of rounds for medical inspection of his wound. The efforts of his corner's cut man garnered some criticism by fans and even by the Prime on PBC commentary panel. His face remained covered in blood for the last ten rounds, and still, he managed to go all 12 rounds. But the business is what it is – without a rematch clause in the contract for Fundora’s last-minute replacement, Tszyu is relegated once again to the rigamarole of boxing championship contender status. 

What's more, Errol Spence Jr, before the match and 8 months after a brutal defeat against Crawford, announced his (and perhaps PBC’s) intentions of fighting the winner of this match. He doubled down in the ring after the fight, when PBC correspondent Jordan Plant welcomed him to discuss the potential matchup. 

As of this writing, Spence and Crawford are debating on Twitter the order for challenging for the unified championship. WBO President Paco Valcárcel has also declared the commission’s intention of ordering a fight, adding to the intrigue of what's to come. Fundora's promoter Sampson Lewkowicz has also signaled they may vacate the WBO belt altogether. And Serhii Bohachuk lies just outside of the conversation, with his own argument to be prioritized after he beat Brian Mendoza – Fundora’s replacement and the only man to ever defeat Fundora, for what was once a WBC championship fight – hours earlier.

With all of these voices going to have a say, what ultimately happens next is totally up to Fundora. Your thoughts on the merits of the accolades must be cast aside. “The Towering Inferno” will decide how the cards will fall. With women's bantamweight champion sister Gabriela Fundora in his corner, the Fundora reign is here. All hail the King of 154 – Whether you agree with it or not (Sorry, Lou).


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