Home Sports Fundora beats Tszyu for WBO, WBC super welterweight belts

Fundora beats Tszyu for WBO, WBC super welterweight belts


Sebastian Fundora beats Tim Tszyu boxing

Sebastian Fundora poses his title belts after defeating WBO junior middleweight champion Tim Tszyu at T-Mobile Arena on March 30, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fundora won Tszyu’s title and a vacant WBC title by split decision. Steve Marcus/Getty Images/AFP

Tall American southpaw Sebastian Fundora stunned previously unbeaten Australian Tim Tszyu on Saturday to unify two world junior middleweight boxing titles in a bout that became a bloody spectacle.

After a strong start, Tszyu struck his head accidentally on the left elbow of the 6-foot-5 (1.97m) challenger in the second round, a deep bleeding gash opened above his forehand turning the Aussie’s face crimson round after round, blood blinding him for much of the fight.

Judges scored the fight 116-112 and 115-113 for Fundora and 116-112 for Tszyu, giving the US fighter a split decision victory for Tszyu’s World Boxing Organization junior middleweight title and the vacant World Boxing Council crown.

“I’m just happy Tim Tszyu gave me the opportunity and I made it a dream come true,” Fundora said. “The way I won my belt, it was an honor to share my belt and make history with him.”

Fundora, 26, improved to 21-1 with one draw in becoming the tallest 154-pound champion in history while Tszyu fell to 24-1.

Tszyu, a 29-year-old from Sydney and the son of former light-welterweight world champion Kostya Tszyu, admitted the blood that turned his face crimson most of the night impacted his effort.

“I couldn’t see,” Tszyu said. “But all credit belongs to the man who won.

“These things happen. The momentum was rolling. I was swinging hard. Then boom, you’re blinded.

“Congratulations to Sebastian. He’s the king at 154. We’ll bounce back.”

In three other world title fights on the Las Vegas card, Mexico’s Julio Cesar Martinez retained his WBC flyweight title, Cuban Erislandy Lara kept his World Boxing Association middleweight crown and Mexico’s Isaac Cruz took the WBA super lightweight title from American Rolando Romero.

Tszyu was to have faced former welterweight world champion Keith Thurman, but the American was hurt in training and replaced two weeks ago by Fundora, who moved up from a planned undercard bout.

“I was given one week. No excuses,” Tszyu said of the opponent switch.

Tszyu landed a hard right to Fundora’s head in round one, the champion quickly finding his timing and range, but once his head struck Fundora’s elbow while making a movie inside, the bleeding began and the fight changed.

Tszyu was examined by a doctor after the second and sixth rounds and each time was allowed to continue.

The Aussie, wiping blood out of his eyes at times, tried to press the attack to his towering rival, who used his huge reach advantage to frustrate Tszyu.

Lara, who turns 41 in April, knocked out Australian Michael Zerafa at 2:59 of the second round to keep the WBA middleweight crown, improving to 30-3 and three drawn with his 18th knockout victory.

Lara landed a right jab that set up his lightning-quick left to the chin that sent Zerafa onto his rear, ending the Aussie’s first world title fight.

Zerafa, 32, fell to 31-5 with his second knockout defeat, the first coming in 2015 in his only prior US fight.

Title in division debut

Isaac Cruz stops Rolly Romero boxing

Isaac Cruz celebrates after defeating WBA super lightweight champion Rolando Romero at T-Mobile Arena on March 30, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cruz won the title with an eighth-round TKO. Steve Marcus/Getty Images/AFP

Cruz, 25, rose in weight and made a spectacular debut in the 140-pound division, stopping Romero at 56 seconds of the eighth round to claim the super-lightweight title.

Cruz improved to 26-2 with one drawn by taking his 18th early stoppage win. Romero fell to 15-2.

Martinez defeated Venezuela’s previously unbeaten Angelino Cordova by majority decision to keep his flyweight throne, two judges naming the Mexican a 114-112 winner with the third scoring a 113-113 draw.

Martinez improved to 21-2, defending for the seventh time a crown he won in 2019, while Cordova fell to 18-1-1.

Cordova was knocked down for the first time in his career in the third round when Martinez landed a solid left to his face and the champion sent Cordova to the canvas again moments later with another solid left on the chin.

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An accidental head butt late in the 10th round sliced a bloody gash in the left eyebrow of Martinez, but the champion held on for the victory.

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