The long-awaited showdown between Tim Tszyu and Jermell Charlo appears to have slipped further away after the American vacated his IBF super welterweight title.
Having been ordered to face long overdue mandatory challenger Bakhram Murtazaliev, a purse bid scheduled for Tuesday in the US was cancelled, with the IBF confirming Charlo had dropped the belt.
The move leaves Charlo as WBC and WBA champion at 154-pounds after the 33-year-old lost his undisputed status when he was stripped of the WBO title for failing to fight Tszyu and instead challenging super middleweight megastar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
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After several years of chasing Charlo, Tszyu’s camp have little faith the fight will ever materialise.
“He doesn’t want a bar of Tim,” Tszyu’s manager Glen Jennings told Sporting News.
“He got $10 million for that last fight [against Canelo], so there’s no urgency for him to fight but there was never an urgency for him to fight Tim, it was always one excuse after another.
“I don’t know what’s going to become of Jermell, I really don’t know what he does now.
“He’s got two belts left, he’ll get dragged into mandatories on those and neither of those are big-name fights either and he’s talking he only wants mega-fights and I just don’t know where they are for him.
“I don’t think we’re going to see Tim Tszyu versus Jermell Charlo, I just don’t see it happening.”
While the path to undisputed may now be a little longer for Tszyu, the goal remains the same.
The Sydneysider stopped Tony Harrison to claim the interim WBO title in March, having been forced to change course after a hand injury to Charlo saw their planned January bout scrapped.
Tszyu then defended the interim title against Carlos Ocampo before he was upgraded to full champion when Charlo was stripped, later holding off the challenge of Brian Mendoza to retain the belt in his most recent outing, last month.
With the belt now vacant, the IBF are expected to order Murtazaliev to face Germany’s Jack Culcay for the title.
Jennings said it will give Tszyu another potential opponent, albeit not the showstoppers he’s been chasing.
“It’s disappointing considering where we could have been just a year ago with undisputed, but that’s all gone,” he said.
“What we hope for now is Culcay and Murtazaliev get it on quick and we’ll go and take that strap. That’s another option for us.
“Unfortunately, they’re not what you’d call bell-ringer fights. They’re names that nobody’s all that keen on but that’s the reality of a lot of the divisions now.”
Following his win over Mendoza, Tszyu and his team confirmed they were targeting a fight in the US in March, potentially alongside the NRL’s double-header in Las Vegas.
Jennings said that remains the plan, although Showtime’s decision to walk away from boxing has left powerhouse promoter PBC without a broadcaster, means nothing can be confirmed just yet.
“We’re working towards March, full steam ahead, all the planning’s happening around it, it’s just a matter for our promoters, Matty and George [Rose] at No Limit, to nail down a date with a broadcast platform and then we’re away,” he said..
“If we get our way, Tim will be busy again in 2024, another three fights but until we get a directive on dates, we just have to sit
“There’s still plenty of good fights for Tim and Tim’s at that level where we’re going to break into the US and there’s some really good names.
“It would have been nice to have Charlo and we’ve got a nice little hitlist there that we like but they’re all either engaged or not fighting.
“I guess the difference between Tim and them is we fight, they hide and that seems to be the pattern at the moment.
“That would be an ideal opportunity, to launch Tim into America on an NRL fight weekend, and some of the other Aussie boys on display as well, that’d be awesome, but we’ll just have to see how it all plays out.”