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Tim Tszyu Set To Become WBO World Champion

Tim Tszyu Set To Become WBO World Champion featured image
The WBO has decided to promote Tim Tszyu as the WBO champion of the 154 lbs division once Jermell Charlo's fight with Canelo Alvarez commences. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The WBO has finally resolved a longstanding issue where Jermell Charlo was at the forefront of this particular matter. Following multiple delays in fighting his mandatory in Tim Tszyu, and after the announcement of him fighting Canelo Alvarez, the WBO has decided to definitively strip Charlo of his WBO world title regardless of whether he fights Alvarez or not. Tim Tszyu, the current interim champion at 154 lbs, will be elevated to full champion as a result.

The decision was virtually forced to be made by the WBO which has seen Jermell Charlo (35-1, 19 KO’s) and his promoter, TGB Promotions, purposefully avoid facing Tim Tszyu (23-0, 17 KO’s) who became the WBO super welterweight interim champion in March after defeating former WBC world champion Tony Harrison (29-4-1, 21 KO’s), became the mandatory challenger to the WBO title on August 27th in 2021. This came shortly after the first undisputed super welterweight match between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano (17-1-2, 12 KO’s) which ended in a split-draw, resulting in both fighters retaining their titles.

The assumption then, was that Castano (then the WBO world champion) would be facing Tszyu, his mandatory challenger, but a rematch was scheduled between Charlo and Castano instead, forcing Tim Tszyu to remain on the sidelines. Though Charlo and Castano eventually fought in 2022 in May, the WBO revealed that there had been multiple delays that prevented the rematch from occurring within the expected timeframe.

The WBO has since then scrutinized Tim Tszyu’s case closely, recognizing that he had been rightfully denied an opportunity to earn a world title several times; both before and after Jermell Charlo became the WBO world champion. After Charlo became undisputed against Castano in their 2nd fight, Tim Tszyu continued to be delayed from fighting for a world belt after Charlo incurred an injury in December of 2022.

To both confirm his mandatory status and to stay active, a fight with Tony Harrison was scheduled for Tim Tszyu which culminated in him becoming the WBO interim champion. In essence, this was supposed to stabilize Tim Tszyu’s position as the mandatory challenger to Jermell Charlo’s titles, but Charlo’s injury did not allow Tszyu to face the undisputed super welterweight champion. Instead, Tszyu decided to keep himself busy against Carlos Ocampo (35-3, 23 KO’s) in June where he put his own mandatory status and interim title on the line.

Despite a 1st round knockout over Ocampo, Tszyu’s efforts to solidify his position as the mandatory challenger fell astray as Charlo Charlo mysteriously seemed to remain injured or in recovery, preventing the fight from happening in a timely manner. Realizing that this could be another stalling tactic, the WBO attempted to set a deadline for Jermell Charlo to face Tszyu and confirmed that he would need to face the Australian by September the latest or be forced to relinquish his titles.

Abruptly, Jermell Charlo was then scheduled to fight undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KO’s) in September instead of Tim Tszyu; a move which again delayed an opportunity for Tszyu to become a world champion.

After finally recognizing that Jermell Charlo or his promoter seemed to be purposefully avoiding Tim Tszyu, the WBO has finally drawn a line in the sand and has decided to strip Charlo of his WBO title and elevate Tim Tszyu. As of August 3rd, the WBO has ruled that Jermell Charlo will continue to remain the WBO champion until after his official ring announcement. Before the fight even concludes, Charlo will immediately have his status as a champion terminated for his failure to comply with his duties to face the mandatory challenger in Tim Tszyu.

Jermell Charlo will no longer hold the WBO title once his match against Canelo Alvarez starts on September 30th, as ruled by the WBO. (Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images)

If the Canelo Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo fight falls through, Charlo will still be stripped of his WBO title, and Tszyu will be elevated to the WBO champion of the 154 lbs division. Essentially, this means that Tszyu has already become the WBO champion and his official status as champion is only a matter of time at this point.

The WBO’s decision is a sharp contrast to how another sanctioning body is dealing with the matter of their own champion, who coincidentally happens to be Jermell Charlo’s twin brother, Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22 KO’s). Jermall Charlo is currently the WBC middleweight champion, despite an absence from the ring of more than two years.

This matter shows the difference between how a sanctioning body should act, and how one should not. While the WBC seems content with allowing Jermall Charlo to remain a champion despite not defending his title once in two years (an occurrence that goes against their own rules), the WBO clearly has no patience for any fighter looking to ignore their rules and have decided to hand Jermell Charlo steep consequences to his delays and his apparent refusal to face Tim Tszyu.

The decision by the WBO also allows for perhaps an even more intriguing match-up between Jermell Charlo and Tim Tszyu if the former is intent on continuing to fight at 154 lbs following his fight with Canelo Alvarez. Should Charlo decide to come back to the division, he will still be the unified champion as the holder of the WBA, WBC and IBF super welterweight titles, but the American champion will need to face Tim Tszyu in the ring if he wants to reclaim his undisputed status.

Whether Jermell Charlo wins or loses against Canelo Alvarez, he will step into the ring as the WBO champion but will no longer be in possession of the title once the match begins. This means that the date of September 30th, when Charlo will be facing Alvarez, will be the same date that Tim Tszyu will be acknowledged as the new WBO champion of the super welterweight division.