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TV Picks Of The Week: Tszyu-Fundora, Plus Eight More Shows In A Packed Week Of Boxing

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This week brings five days with a combined nine boxing broadcasts — one show on Wednesday, one on Thursday, two shows on Friday, four shows on Saturday, and one on Sunday. 

The biggest of them all is Saturday’s pay-per-view headlined by Tim Tszyu vs. Sebastian Fundora. Tszyu-Fundora is one of four world title fights on the show. 

This week also brings a unification fight for the undisputed championship in the women’s minimumweight division; a cruiserweight title fight; appearances by tons of rising prospects; and other fights worth monitoring at minimum, if you can’t watch them all.

And that’s not even including the card in Japan on Sunday involving the Shigeoka brothers, Ginjiro and Yudai, defending their minimumweight titles against ArAr Andales and Melvin Jerusalem, respectively. If you enjoy following the talents that Japan continues to produce, especially in the lighter weight classes, then this is worth finding a stream. 

(There’s also supposedly a Kubrat Pulev fight on DAZN, though the streaming service has not yet posted that on their schedule.)

There’s a lot for us to cover. Let’s get to it…

Pick It: Tim Tszyu vs. Sebastian Fundora

When to watch: Saturday, March 30. The prelims, free for everyone, begin at 6 p.m. Eastern Time on Amazon’s website; the pay-per-view broadcast begins at 8 p.m. Eastern Time

How to watch: Pay-per-view: $69.95 on Prime Video, $69.99 on PPV.com, and also available for purchase via traditional cable and satellite outlets.

Why to watch: For Tim Tszyu, this fight is simultaneously a title defense, a unification bout, and an opportunity to hold his position as the top challenger for junior middleweight king Jermell Charlo.

Charlo was once undisputed at 154. He’s since been stripped of all four sanctioning body titles due to inactivity but remains the lineal champ. Tszyu was supposed to face Charlo in January 2023. That fight was called off when Charlo suffered an injury in training camp. It’s yet to be rescheduled — Charlo instead took a huge risk both for posterity and a sizable payday, jumping up two weight classes to challenge Canelo Alvarez last September, dropping a decision on the cards.

Tszyu hasn’t sat around waiting for Charlo. He fought three times in 2023, stopping former titleholder Tony Harrison in nine rounds, knocking out Carlos Ocampo in 77 seconds, and scoring a unanimous decision over Brian Mendoza. The 29-year-old from Australia is now 24-0 (17 KOs).

Tszyu was supposed to kick off 2024 — and Premier Boxing Champions’ new relationship with Amazon’s Prime Video — by taking on Keith Thurman in the main event of this Saturday’s pay-per-view. When Thurman dropped out with an injury, late replacement Sebastian Fundora stepped in on less than two weeks’ notice. They will be fighting for Tszyu’s WBO title and the vacant WBC belt.

Fundora had already been training to fight on the undercard of this show, so he’ll be in shape. For both men, however, there are pros and cons to changing opponents this late in the game. (I did a deep-dive on that in my most recent “Fighting Words” column, including the history of fighters who lost to or struggled with late replacement opponents, while others had little difficulty.)

The change in opponents had added more intrigue to this main event. While Thurman was an accomplished welterweight, “was” is the operative word. He’d been inactive for most of the past five years and had no track record against quality opposition at 154. Fundora hasn’t achieved what Thurman did in the sport, but he’s got the size and style that could potentially make this a challenging fight for Tszyu, or at least a fun one for as long as it lasts.

Tszyu is billed at 5 feet and 8.5 inches. Thurman is about an inch taller, at 5 feet and 9.5 inches. Fundora? He’s listed at 6 feet and 5.5 inches, huge for this weight class and tall for, well, every weight class. Fundora doesn’t tend to use his height advantage to keep distance, though, but rather is an action fighter.

That style made for an entertaining battle with Erickson Lubin in 2022. Fundora won that one by ninth-round TKO, notched a unanimous decision over Ocampo, and then met Mendoza in April 2023. Fundora was ahead on the scorecards after six rounds, only to eat a big counter that left him on wobbly legs. Mendoza quickly followed up with two more blows, putting Fundora down for the count.

That was the first loss for the 26-year-old, who fights out of California and is now 20-1-1 (13 KOs). This will be Fundora’s first fight back after a layoff of nearly a year.

If Fundora upsets the apple cart, he’d need to face the winner of an undercard bout between Serhii Bohachuk (who Fundora was originally scheduled to face) and Mendoza. One also imagines that there could be a rematch with Tszyu in case of the upset.

And if Tszyu triumphs, he too would be due to face the Bohachuk-Mendoza winner, and he’ll probably continue to stay busy against the remaining contenders and world titleholders until Charlo returns to 154 — if and when that happens.

Speaking of the undercard…

Tszyu-Fundora is supported by three title fights on the main pay-per-view broadcast: Rolando Romero-Isaac Cruz, Erislandy Lara-Michael Zerafa, and Julio Cesar Martinez-Angel Cordova. And there’s also a free stream before the pay-per-view featuring two of the prelim bouts: Bohachuk-Mendoza and Elijah Garcia-Kyrone Davis.

Romero vs. Cruz: This is a battle between two recent opponents of Gervonta Davis. Rolando “Rolly” Romero, stopped by Davis in 2022, came back last May at junior welterweight and picked up the vacant WBA title last year in controversial fashion. Romero was behind on the scorecards after eight rounds against Ismael Barroso when referee Tony Weeks stepped in, wrongly thinking that Barroso was more hurt than he actually was. That brought Romero, a 28-year-old from Las Vegas, to 15-1 (13 KOs). This will be Romero’s first defense of that belt.

Cruz, 25-2-1 (17 KOs), lost a unanimous decision to Davis at the tail end of 2021; Davis said afterward that he came into the bout with a hand injury. Cruz has won three straight since then, all at lightweight. The 25-year-old from Mexico City dispatched Yuriorkis Gamboa and Eduardo Ramirez, then took a split decision over Giovanni Cabrera.

The winner will be part of a division where there’s a lineal champion — Teofimo Lopez, who beat Josh Taylor — and a handful of young talent, including the winner of the upcoming Devin Haney-Ryan Garcia fight, Subriel Matias, Jose Ramirez, Richardson Hitchins, and Arnold Barboza.

Lara vs. Zerafa: Lara picked up the WBA’s secondary “regular” title in 2021 with an 80-second KO of Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna and defended it about 13 months later with an eighth-round TKO of Spike O’Sullivan. This will be the first time that Lara is considered the primary WBA titleholder; Gennady Golovkin relinquished the WBA’s “super” title last year. 

(I’ve been covering this sport for two decades and a little bit of my soul dies every time I need to type out one of those WBA explainers.)

Lara previously was a world titleholder at 154, where he beat the likes of Alfredo Angulo, Austin Trout and Terrell Gausha while dropping decisions to Canelo Alvarez and Jarrett Hurd. Lara is a couple weeks away from turning 41 years old. Originally from Cuba, now fighting out of Houston, he is 29-3-3 with 17 KOs and fighting for recognition in a middleweight division that’s currently lacking in star power and proven track records against top opposition. 

His opponent, Zerafa, isn’t an accomplished middleweight, though he has a somewhat recognizable name. The 32-year-old from Melbourne, Australia, was knocked out by Peter Quillin in 2015, outpointed by Kell Brook down at junior middleweight in 2018, scored a TKO over a middleweight version of Jeff Horn in 2019 but lost a majority decision in their rematch, and made short work of an ancient Anthony Mundine in 2021. That was the start of a four-fight win streak, which has brought Zerafa’s record to 31-4 (19 KOs).

Martinez vs. Cordova: Martinez won the vacant WBC flyweight title at the end of 2019. He’s gone 5-0 in title defenses since, plus one “no contest” from a fight that ended early due to a clash of heads. In-between, the 29-year-old from Mexico City also jumped up to 115, stepping in to challenge Roman Gonzalez in 2022 when Chocolatito’s original opponent, Juan Francisco Estrada, got sick and had to pull out of the fight. Gonzalez beat Martinez by unanimous decision. With the two wins Martinez has picked up since, he’s now 20-3 (15 KOs).

Cordova, a 28-year-old from Venezuela, is 18-0-1 (12 KOs). Most of those wins came against opponents who had never or barely ever won a fight, but Cordova’s stepped up in his past two appearances. In 2022, Cordova beat Axel Aragon Vega by split decision; Vega had previously given 108-pound titleholder Hiroto Kyoguchi trouble before suffering a hand injury. And last year, Cordova outpointed Angel Acosta, a former junior flyweight titleholder.

Bohachuk vs. Mendoza: Bohachuk was originally supposed to face Fundora for the vacant WBC junior middleweight title. Instead, that belt will now be awarded to the winner of Tszyu- Fundora. However, the winner of Bohachuk-Mendoza will supposedly be next in line.

Bohachuk is a 28-year-old originally from Ukraine and now fighting out of Los Angeles. His lone loss came in 2021, a TKO8 against Brandon Adams. Since then, Bohachuk has won five straight, bringing his record to 23-1 (23 KOs). That means none of Bohachuk’s professional boxing matches has gone the distance.

Mendoza is 22-3 (16 KOs). He was down on the scorecards against Fundora last year when he saw an opening for a big counter shot, hurting Fundora and then landing a pair of follow-ups for the knockout win. Mendoza was rewarded for that victory, stepping in against Tszyu last October but losing a unanimous decision. The 30-year-old, originally from New Mexico but fighting out of Las Vegas, would love another crack at the titles.

Elijah Garcia vs. Kyrone Davis: Garcia is young, a 20-year-old middleweight prospect from Arizona with a record of 16-0 (13 KOs). Davis, who is 18-3-1 (6 KOs), brings experience against top-tier opposition; the 29-year-old from Delaware fought Anthony Dirrell to a draw in 2021, was stopped by David Benavidez later that year, didn’t fight at all in 2022, and then picked up two wins last year. 

More Fights to Watch

Friday, March 29: Oscar Valdez vs. Liam Wilson (ESPN+, preliminary bouts begin at 6:05 p.m. Eastern Time, main broadcast begins at 11 p.m. Eastern Time)

Valdez-Wilson headlines at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona, a fight with plenty on the line for two men who’ve fallen short in recent title shots and hope to remain in contention for future opportunities.

Valdez, the former featherweight and junior lightweight titleholder, lost in a unification bout with Shakur Stevenson in 2022, picked up a victory over Adam Lopez and then dropped a unanimous decision to titleholder Emanuel Navarrete last year. The 33-year-old from Nogales, Mexico, is now 31-2 (23 KOs).

This is Wilson’s second time fighting in the United States, and in this same arena at that. The 28-year-old from Australia lost a decision to Navarrete while fighting for a vacant world title in early 2023 (the same title that Navarrete then defended against Valdez).

The chief support for Valdez-Wilson is a unification bout that will create an undisputed champion in the women’s minimumweight division.

Seniesa Estrada brings her WBA and WBC titles and her record of 25-0 (9 KOs). She steps in with Yokasta Valle, who owns the IBF and WBO belts and a record of 30-2 (9 KOs).

Estrada, a 31-year-old from Los Angeles, has been a titleholder in the 105-pound division for three years and unified last year with a decision over Tina Rupprecht. This will be her fifth defense; she also briefly held a world title in the 108-pound weight class. 

Valle, who is also 31 years old, was born in Nicaragua before moving to Costa Rica at a young age. She won her first world title in the 102-pound weight class back in 2016. Those defeats came in back-to-back losses against Naoko Fujioka in a battle for a junior flyweight belt in 2017 and against Rupprecht at 105 in 2018. 

Valle has since won a world title at minimumweight in 2019, made five successful defenses, unified in her sixth with a win over Thi Thu Nhi Nguyen in 2022, and has now made a combined nine defenses. Valle also added a pair of titles at 108 along the way before vacating both of them.

Several up-and-comers are also scheduled for the show, with the preliminary bouts streaming early for those who want to see them:

  • Lightweight contender Raymond Muratalla, 19-0 (16 KOs), faces Xolisani Ndongeni, 31-4 (18 KOs). This is Muratalla’s first fight in 2024. Last year he picked up three wins, including victories over Jeremia Nakathila (TKO2) and Diego Torres Nunez (TKO8). Ndongeni has lost two in a row, dropping a unanimous decision last year to Ernesto Mercado and getting stopped in eight by Arnold Barboza this past January.
  • Junior welterweight prospect Lindolfo Delgado, 19-0 (14 KOs), faces Carlos Sanchez, 25-2 (19 KOs).
  • Heavyweight prospect Richard Torrez Jr., 8-0 (8 KOs), meets Donald Haynesworth, 18-8-1 (16 KOs). Torrez captured the silver medal at super heavyweight in the 2020 Olympics.
  • Lightweight prospect Alan Garcia, 11-0 (9 KOs), meets Gonzalo Fuenzalida, 12-3 (3 KOs).
  • Lightweight prospect Emiliano Fernando Vargas, 8-0 (7 KOs), steps in with Nelson Hampton, 10-8 (6 KOs). Vargas is named after his famed fighting father, Fernando Vargas.
  • Sergio Rodriguez, 10-0-1 (8 KOs), faces Sanny Duversonne, 12-6-2 (9 KOs). Both men have fought between 160 and 175 in their recent fights; supposedly this fight will take place at middleweight.
  • Junior welterweight prospect Art Barrera, 3-0 (3 KOs), takes on Keven Soto, 5-1 (3 KOs).
  • Junior welterweight prospect Ricardo Ruvalcaba, 11-0-1 (9 KOs), clashes with Avner Hernandez Molina 4-3 (0 KOs).

Saturday, March 30: Arsen Goulamirian vs. Gilberto Ramirez (DAZN, undercard begins at 8 p.m. Eastern Time/midnight GMT on March 31)

Goulamirian, 27-0 (19 KOs), defends his WBA cruiserweight title against Ramirez, 45-1 (30 KOs), a former super middleweight titleholder and light heavyweight contender, in the main event of a show at the YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California. 

The fact that Goulamirian still holds a world title is bizarre. The 36-year-old Armenian-born French boxer had a pair of lengthy layoffs, thanks to injuries and legal matters, which sidelined him between defenses in December 2019 and November 2022, and between November 2022 and this coming weekend.

Ramirez held a title at 168 from 2016 to 2018, moved up to 175 and ultimately lost a wide decision to titleholder Dmitrii Bivol in late 2022. The 32-year-old from Mexico returned from an 11-month layoff last October, fighting at cruiserweight and taking a unanimous decision over former light heavyweight titleholder Joe Smith Jr.

The undercard includes:

  • Welterweight Alexis Rocha, 23-2 (15 KOs), last seen suffering a knockout loss to Giovani Santillan. Rocha takes on Fredrick Lawson, 30-4 (22 KOs), who was sparked out in one round by Vergil Ortiz this past January. 
  • There’s also a rematch between flyweights Ricardo Sandoval (23-2, 16 KOs) and Carlos Buitrago (38-12-1, 22 KOs). Sandoval stopped Buitrago in seven rounds back in 2021. 
  • And there will be appearances in separate bouts by a few prospects: welterweight Santiago Dominguez (26-0, 20 KOs), welterweight Joel Iriarte (1-0, 1 KO), light heavyweight Kareem Hackett (12-0, 6 KOs), and lightweight Jonathan Canas (3-0, 2 KOs).

Additional Shows For You Boxing Addicts

Wednesday, March 27: Joseph Adorno vs. Nicholas Walters (ProBoxTV.com, 8 p.m. Eastern Time)

(Note: BoxingScene.com is owned by ProBox.) 

Headlining this card in Plant City, Florida, are Adorno, 18-3-2 (15 KOs), and Walters, 28-1-1 (22 KOs), fighting at lightweight. 

Adorno suffered his first loss to Michel Rivera in 2022, then bounced back with three straight wins before having a tough 2023. He lost decisions to Elvis Rodriguez and Edwin De Los Santos and then wrapped the year with a TKO of designated opponent Jonathan Perez.

Walters, the former featherweight titleholder, spent seven years out of the ring after his 2016 loss to junior lightweight titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko. He returned in 2023 with a pair of victories against opponents with a combined record of 28-37.

The co-feature has a pair of once-beaten junior welterweights: Jesus Saracho, 13-1-1 (11 KOs), faces Starling Castillo, 18-1-1 (13 KOs). 

Thursday, March 28: Juan Carrillo vs. Quinton Rankin (DAZN, 9 p.m. Eastern Time)

Light heavyweight prospect Carillo, 11-0 (8 KOs), shares the main event at the Wayne State Fieldhouse in Detroit. Carrillo faces Rankin, 21-8-2 (16 KOs), who’s been a measuring stick opponent in recent years for 175-pounders young (David Morrell, Deon Nicholson) and old (Chad Dawson).

The undercard also features unbeaten super middleweight Vladimir Shishkin, 15-0 (9 KOs), against Mike Guy, 12-7-1 (5 KOs), plus junior welterweight Shohjahon Ergashev, 23-1 (20 KOs), returning from last November’s stoppage loss to titleholder Subriel Matias. Ergashev faces Juan Huertas, 17-4-1 (13 KOs).

Friday, March 29: Elijah Pierce vs. Arthur Villanueva (DAZN, 8 p.m. Eastern Time)

This show at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta is headlined by Pierce vs. Villanueva. Pierce, 18-2 (15 KOs), is a 27-year-old from Oklahoma. He has picked up two consecutive wins over recognizable names, outpointing Tramaine Williams and knocking out Mike Plania. As for Villanueva, who is 35-4-1 (20 KOs), the 35-year-old from the Philippines has won three in a row, appearing once a year for the past three years. His last defeat came in 2019, when he was stopped by then-bantamweight titleholder Nordine Oubaali.

The undercard also features Oshae Jones, 5-0 (1 KO), who earned the bronze medal in the women’s welterweight division in the 2020 Olympics; a bout between unbeaten lightweight prospects Haven Brady Jr., 11-0 (4 KOs) and Waldemar Carril Areizaga, 8-0 (4 KOs); and an appearance by Giovanni Marquez, a junior welterweight who is 8-0 (5 KOs) and is the son of former junior middleweight titleholder Raul Marquez.

Saturday, March 30: Kurt Walker vs. James Beech Jr. (DAZN, 3 p.m. Eastern Time / 7 p.m. GMT)

A featherweight bout between Walker and Beech headlines this show at Ulster Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Walker is 10-0 (1 KO) while Beech is 16-5 (2 KOs).

Saturday, March 30: Luis Lopez vs. Jesus Resendiz (Fubo Sports, 8 p.m. Eastern Time)

Held at Thunder Studios in Long Beach, California, this show features welterweight Lopez, 14-2-2 (5 KOs), against Resendiz, 8-0-1 (6 KOs).

Sunday, March 31: Fabio Wardley vs. Frazer Clarke (Peacock, 1 p.m. Eastern Time / 6 p.m. GMT; broadcast on Sky Sports in the U.K.)

Two unbeaten heavyweight prospects lead up this show at the O2 Arena in London. Wardley is 17-0 (16 KOs) and coming off a year where he knocked out Michael Coffie and David Adeleye. Clarke, a 2020 Olympic bronze medalist at super heavyweight, is 8-0 (6 KOs). Among his recent victories are Bogdan Dinu (TKO2), Mariusz Wach (UD10) and David Allen (TKO6).

This show also features: 

  • Welterweights: Florian Marku, 13-0-1 (8 KOs), vs. Chris Kongo, 14-2 (7 KOs) 
  • Super middleweights: Callum Simpson, 13-0 (9 KOs), vs. Dulla Mbabe, 34-13-1 (29 KOs)
  • Light heavyweights: Ben Whittaker, 6-0 (5 KOs), who earned a silver medal in the 2020 Olympics, vs. Leon Willings, 7-1 (2 KOs)
  • Cruiserweights: Viddal Riley, 10-0 (6 KOs), vs. Mikael Lawal, 17-1 (11 KOs)
  • Heavyweights: Alen Babic, 11-1 (10 KOs), vs. Steve Robinson, 6-2 (4 KOs)

Follow David Greisman on Twitter @FightingWords2. His book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” is available on Amazon.

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