Weekend Wrap Up: Tszyu and Pacheco Make Statements
Though we had no world championship fights this weekend, that does not mean that we were without some quality boxing. There were three major televised cards yesterday, one on Showtime, one on DAZN and one on ESPN+ in the US.
The Showtime card was headlined by a son of a legend who is certainly carving out a place for himself in the sport. Tim Tszyu (22-0, 16 KOs) became the “interim” WBO 154lb champion with his ninth round TKO victory over former world champion Tony Harrison (29-4-1, 21 KOs). I thought Harrison’s experience and boxing ability would give Tszyu more trouble than it did, but Tim continues to add to his arsenal and get better each time he is in the ring. What stood out to me was how well Tszyu countered Harrison, and how poised he stayed in the biggest fight of his career to date. This sets him up for a summer showdown with undisputed champion Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs), which has the potential to be a classic “Fight of the Year” type of fight. I still favor Charlo in that fight, but this performance adds to the hype and gives Tszyu a legit top 5 win on his resume that he didn’t have before.
On the Tszyu undercard, Paulo Aokuso (4-0, 3 KOs) defeated Yunieski Gonzalez in the co-feature (21-6, 17 KOs) by unanimous decision. He scored a knockdown in round seven, and is someone to keep an eye on in the light heavyweight division. Also on the undercard, Sam Goodman (14-0, 7 KOs) won a unanimous decision over former world champion TJ Doheny (23-4, 17 KOs) and Nikita Tszyu (5-0, 4 KOs) picked up a sixth round stoppage victory over Bo Belbin (7-1, 5 KOs).
The DAZN card in Liverpool was suppose to be headlined by former 168lb champion Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KOs), but Smith pulled out due to injury and we instead we got a look into the future. Diego Pacheco (18-0, 15 KOs) was bumped up to the main event against his best opponent to date, and passed the test with flying colors. Jack Cullen (21-4-1, 9 KOs) is a quality British fighter but was levels below the young phenom. Pacheco floored him twice in the forth round and did not let him make it out of that round. I think Pacheco has one of the highest ceilings of anyone in the 168lb division, and as long as the 22-year-old stays focused he will be a dominant world champion in the near future.
Darragh Foley (22-4-1, 10 KOs) upset Robbie Davies Jr (23-4, 15 KOs) in a fight that had an ending that was hard to watch, but not for the reason you may think. Foley sent Davies to the canvas with a perfect right hook as time expired in round two but Davies was able to get up and survive. In round three a gruesome ankle injury caused Davies to hit the deck again, and ended the fight. Also featured earlier on the undercard were Johnny Fisher (8-0, 7 KOs) and Campbell Hatton (10-0, 3 KOs), who both added victories to their record.
On ESPN+ Saturday afternoon, 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist Tony Yoka (11-2, 9 KOs) was defeated for the second straight time. Once again, we are left with questions regarding his position in the heavyweight division and what role he plays in the sport going forward. He was dominated by a 42-year-old Carlos Takam (40-7, 28 KOs), a career long contender who even in his prime was never regarded as an elite talent. This is coming off of a similar type of defeat to Martin Bakole (18-1, 13 KOs), and it appears to me that Yoka doesn’t have the ability to make adjustments or deal with pressure that he needs to be successful in the heavyweight division.
On the ESPN+ undercard, Dan Azeez (19-0, 13 KOs) and Lauren Price (3-0, 1 KO) picked up dominant victories. Azeez became the European 175lb champion when he stopped Thomas Faure (21-5-1, 2 KOs) in round twelve, and Price won a shutout decision over Naomi Mannes (6-2, 4 KOs).