Tim Tszyu
Tim Tszyu says he'll feel like a world champion once he beats American Brian Mendoza on October 15. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS
  • boxing

Tszyu bent on Mendoza win to ‘earn’ his world title

Joanna Guelas October 4, 2023

Feeling he hasn’t earned his world champion status, Australian boxing star Tim Tszyu is intent on snuffing out American underdog Brian Mendoza to do just that.

The 28-year-old was crowned WBO super-welterweight world champion this week after Jermell Charlo was stripped of the title for reneging on the Tszyu fight to instead face Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

Tszyu was installed as WBO champ as soon as Charlo stepped into the ring to face Alvarez, the American then beaten soundly over 12 rounds in the Las Vegas super-fight.

But Tszyu (23-0, 17KOs) hasn’t felt any different since then – in fact, he doesn’t feel he’s won anything “in the eyes of the books”.

“They say, you dream about being a world champion and this and that. I’m still the same old. Nothing’s changed at all whatsoever,” he said on Wednesday.

“I’m just solely focused right now on Mendoza. I feel like I want to earn it that way.

“I’ll feel like a world champion once this fight is done.”

Tszyu scored a brutal knockout win over Tony Harrison in Sydney in March to capture the interim title before successfully defending it in June on the Gold Coast with an even more impressive stoppage of Mexican Carlos Ocampo.

The Sydneysider will travel back to the Gold Coast to fight American Mendoza (22-2, 16KOs) on October 15.

Mendoza is fresh off back-to-back upset wins over Jeison Rosario and Sebastian Fundora and holds the WBC interim light middleweight title, giving Tszyu the chance to emulate his legendary father Kostya as a unified world champion.

But with Mendoza promising another upset, Tszyu admits the fight will be a “tremendous challenge”.

“It’s a style that I haven’t faced before, but I’m aware that this is the next one per cent,” Tszyu said.

“There’s a certain level of respect. The fact that he’s been the underdog for so many fights – for him, he’s coming in seriously.

“But everyone can be confident – it all changes when you get hit in the face and when you’re put in with someone that’s a different breed.

“I know I am (a different breed).”

Charlo (35-1-1, 19KOs) was slated to fight Tszyu for all four belts this year but twice pulled out, the second time to instead move up two weight divisions to take on super-middleweight undisputed champion Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs).

Tszyu has laughed off Charlo’s dismissal of him as a “paper champion … who hasn’t done s*** in boxing”, given the American’s evasiveness.

However a win against Mendoza would again put that duel back on the agenda.