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Tony Harrison Claims Tzyu Got Ahead Because of Last Name, Fails To Mention Own Boxing Family

Tony Harrison Claims Tzyu Got Ahead Because of Last Name, Fails To Mention Own Boxing Family featured image
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 28: Tim Tszyu (L) and Tony Harrison (R) pose together ahead of the Creed III Sydney Premiere at the Hoyts Entertainment Quarter on February 28, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Former WBC Super Welterweight champion, Tony Harrison addressed some of his concerns regarding Tim Tszyu’s position to be chosen as Jermell Charlo’s mandatory, vividly describing his own journey and path that he feels was much harder than Tszyu’s. The Detroit-born fighter also expressed the belief that Tim Tszyu, son of former undisputed Super Lightweight champion, Kostya Tszyu, mostly got ahead because of who his father had been.

From the onset of his face-off with Tszyu (21-0, 15 KO’s), Harrison (29-3-1, 21 KO’s) seemed dismissive of how Tszyu received the opportunity to face Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KO’s).

What ranking did he even go down, or what contender or top 5, or top 10 did he fight to get there?” Harrison expressed in the face-off he held with Tim Tszyu.

He further seemed to question the sanctioning bodies and organizations that ranked Tszyu high enough to face, arguing that he felt Tszyu was only good enough to challenge for one title.

Tim, I feel like, has fought and beat everybody who they told him to beat. But he hasn’t crossed the pond to beat guys like me.” Harrison continued.

Despite Harrison’s claims, four of Tim Tszyu’s last opponents were decisively better than the last four opponents that Harrison beat before gaining his first world title opportunity against Jermell Charlo in 2018. Dennis Hogan (31-4-1, 7 KO’s), Steve Sparks (16-2, 14 KO’s) and Terrell Gausha (23-3-1, 12 KO’s) – all opponents that Tim Tszyu beat – were ahead of the curve when it comes to ability compared to the Ishe Smith’s and George Sosa’s that Harrison faced. Notably, Hogan and Gausha themselves currently find themselves in the top 15 of BoxRec’s Super Welterweight rankings, while Steve Sparks – who has moved down since fighting Tszyu – is currently considered the 6th best Super Lightweight according to BoxRec.

In comparison, none of the opponents that Harrison fought – or even lost to – occupies a significant spot in any of the rankings except for Jermell Charlo, who is the division’s undisputed champion. Only Jarrett Hurd is a notable name that Harrison has faced that is still active, but even Hurd seems to be close to retirement following his fall from grace as a unified Super Welterweight champion that saw him lose three times out of his last four fights, with his last loss having occurred less than a week ago.

The American fighter also believed Tim Tszyu’s last name – due to the accomplishments of his father, Kostya Tszyu – was a reason for why he got into the position to fight Charlo for all his titles.

He hasn’t faced those guys to be next up to fight for everything. That’s a last name thing.” Harrison claimed.

Though Tim Tszyu may have benefitted from his father’s achievements as a professional, it is not uncommon for boxers that had family members go into boxing receive better opportunities than some of their peers. Harrison himself had a father and grandfather who became professionals, and he himself received a world opportunity in 2018 after facing a fighter who had been 29-9 in Ishe Smith, and a 15-11 fighter in George Sosa who arguably weren’t considered to be top 25, much less top 15 fighters in the period he fought them.

Talent structures were also a point that Harrison brought up to discredit Tszyu’s position as mandatory challenger to Charlo’s titles, with Harrison remarking several times that Tszyu had yet to face any solid American except for when he faced and defeated American Terrell Gausha – who notably knocked Tszyu down in the first round of their match.

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Jermell Charlo – who Tony Harrison handed his first loss to in 2018 – is the Junior Middleweight’s best fighter with his undisputed status. (Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images)

The belief that American fighters have to be fought in order to get ahead in the ranking stems from an old-school belief that dates back to when Rocky Marciano was still active and America was considered the ‘Mecca’ of boxing. In 2023, many countries around the world have developed to become great testing ground for fighters, with the UK and Japan in particular being known to produce great fighters. Tszyu has faced some of the best fighters in his division from America, the UK and Japan, and has been accordingly tested, whereas Harrison has not exactly faced the cream of the crop when it comes to his own country, and he has fought a multitude of international fighters himself, with his last opponent, Sergio Garcia, hailing from Spain which is not known as a country known to produce the same level of fighters we’ve seen in America and the UK.

Though Harrison has brought up reasonable points when it comes to sanctioning bodies and organizations putting certain fighters ahead, Tim Tszyu is genuinely a worthy contender. Harrison also mentioned that Tszyu should have had to face him first to gain the opportunity, which would be considered the ideal way for Tszyu to move ahead into a challenger or mandatory position. Those concerns are valid, and such a manner in picking contenders should be adhered to, but Tszyu at the same time has a solid resume.

With Tszyu now facing a former world champion in Harrison, it makes Harrison’s own point about Tszyu being mandated to fight Charlo for all his titles moot, as he is now required to beat Harrison to gain the opportunity.

In any case, the Tszyu vs. Harrison match-up provides an interesting look into two fighters who are genuine elite competitors fighting for the opportunity to face a pound-for-pound candidate in Jermell Charlo. Whoever comes out on top, will deservedly get the opportunity to become undisputed against Charlo who is considered to be in his prime, and still hungry and young enough to make a sizeable impact in the sport of boxing.

The two are set to face each other on Sunday, March 12th, for the WBO interim championship at 154 lbs, in what is sure to be a spectacle for boxing fans who will get to witness an intriguing clash of styles between two top competitors in their division.