TIM TSZYU VS TONY HARRISON – EXPERT PREVIEW
Tim Tszyu and Tony Harrison are looking to break out as elite champions in a highly competitive and popular division, with the WBO light middleweight interim title on the line. Future bouts with pay-per-view stars also await the winner of this weekend’s showdown in Sydney.
FIGHTER PROFILE: TIM TSZYU
Despite a disadvantage in experience, Tim Tszyu finds himself installed as the favourite in what is his first major title bout. That said, Tszyu has held several smaller titles in the past and is no stranger to longer bouts, even notching two points decision wins in 12-round contests. Notable for his surname well before his skills were on everyone’s radar, the son of boxing legend Kostya has progressed well as a professional, having avoided the trap of being moved along too quickly (or too slowly) as a prospect.
Stylistically, Tszyu is a rather aggressive and persistent fighter. He is well-schooled in pressuring fighters with not only offensive force, but stifling footwork. Tszyu’s positioning as he wears down opponents with his steady, fundamentally-rooted aggressiveness has been a particular asset of his as he climbed the ranks – even if his head movement is lacklustre. Fortunate to own a stiff and persistent jab, Tszyu is developing into a fighter with a stifling presence, learning how to pace himself and continue applying pressure down the stretch as opposed to chasing finishes.
Although Tszyu is not as large of a puncher as his 71% finish rate would suggest, he maintains a fairly consistent output and is still capable of slinging a heavy left hook even late in the bout. Having demonstrated reliable conditioning to accompany his increasingly sharp technical ability, Tszyu’s defensive shortcomings are one of his most glaring; otherwise, he is a formidable offensive threat.
In particular, Tszyu has a tendency to begin squaring his upper body as he moves laterally, which doesn’t impact his offense as much as it leaves him open to getting caught as he follows his opponent. Earlier in his career, Tszyu was caught with the occasional heavy shot that was absorbed and worked past with ease. As Tszyu has stepped up in competition, the counter-punches he is getting hit with are growing larger, faster, and better timed. This culminated in Tszyu being knocked down in his most recent outing – the second time in his career.
The Australian native has grown in ability and confidence as he steps out of his father’s shadow, but will need to employ every weapon in his arsenal to come out with a win over wily veteran Tony Harrison.
FIGHTER PROFILE: TONY HARRISON
An American boxer-puncher who fought for his first world title in 2017, Tony Harrison is a familiar name in and around the light middleweight division. With a star-studded resume, including current or former champions such as Jarrett Hurd, Ishe Smith, Sergio Garcia, and Jermell Charlo (twice), there is no doubting the world-class capability of Harrison.
A smooth boxer with deceptive power in both hands, Harrison has developed immensely as a fighter, even since his initial scraps with the division’s elite. At his best, Harrison is a clever, mobile boxer capable of sitting down on his punches and then sitting down his opponents. To win minutes, Harrison utilises solid footwork and a quick, consistent jab that often has a straight following behind it.
Harrison is no stranger to a good brawl at close range, but with a reach spanning just over 76” (193cm), he often has a length advantage over his opponent. That trend continues into this match-up, as Harrison will be jabbing from roughly 6” (15cm) farther than Tim Tszyu can. That all said, I mentioned Harrison’s familiarity with brawling and although he can hold his own in a phone booth, it would not serve him well to push his luck in extended exchanges with his Australian foe.
A developed boxer who trains – and teaches – out of Superbad in the longtime boxing hotbed of Detroit, Michigan, Harrison does fantastic work when sticking closely to a disciplined game plan that largely revolves around utilising his speed and mobility. Having been stopped in all three of his losses, Harrison is clearly capable of being wounded, even if fighters like Charlo and Hurd are considered heavier hitters than Tim Tszyu.
Harrison is one of the best fighters in the division when he is at his best, but is prone to losing focus at times. With the death of his father behind him – an event that clearly marred Harrison’s lone performance of 2021 – and newly revitalised as a professional, the time is right for Tony Harrison to showcase the best of his abilities.
This contest is highly anticipated for good reason, and while I do expect a competitive affair throughout, this is one of the most challenging match-ups Tim Tszyu could have as the betting favorite this weekend.
There is something to be said about Tony Harrison’s history against left hooks, as the punch has landed him in hot water multiple times before. But the lead hook will not be found easily for Tszyu, who will likely have to catch Harrison in the midst of a temporary flurry, or else become apt to swing at air while Harrison circles away. Respect should be given to Tim Tszyu’s entertaining climb up the ranks to reach this major title opportunity, but he will unquestionably have trouble catching up to Tony Harrison this weekend.
A mobile fighter with particularly sharp, quick, straight punches is a nightmare for Tszyu, who will not only have to contend with the footwork of Harrison, but a comparable jab and a potentially deadly right hand behind it. I anticipate Tszyu will do his best to seek out a finish with increasing desperation as the night wears on, but I doubt his ability to win minutes against a focused Harrison. Look out for the American, who may upset the odds one more time to become a major title holder for just the second time in his career.
** BACK: Method of Victory – Tony Harrison by Decision / Technical Decision