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WBO To Order Sebastian Fundora-Terence Crawford Title Fight

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Sebastian Fundora is already on the clock for his first title defense.

The World Boxing Organization (WBO) has ordered its newly crowned 154-pound titlist to next face three-division champ Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford. The ruling was applied per the conditional terms by the sanctioning body in its approval for Fundora to challenge previously unbeaten titlist Tim Tszyu.

Fundora won their blood-soaked March 30 bout via split decision to dethrone Tszyu. He also picked up the vacant WBC 154-pound title with the win. A separate mandatory title defense will come with that, though irrelevant to the present task at hand.

Please be advised that March 25, 2024, this Committee granted sanction approval of the Tszyu/Fundora WBO [title fight],” WBO Championship Committee chairman Luis Batista-Salas noted in a ruling obtained by The Ring. “Sanction approval was granted subject to the winner facing next the Mandatory Challenger in the Jr. Middleweight Division, Terence “Bud” Crawford within 180 days after the Tszyu/Fundora bout.

“The foregoing condition was essential for purposes of sanction approval. Therefore, in light of the above and per WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests, the parties are hereby ordered to commence negotiations for the WBO Mandatory Jr. Middleweight Championship.”

The negotiation period will officially begin on Friday, five business days from the March 30 Prime Video Pay-Per-View headliner. Fundora and Crawford will have until April 25 to reach terms and avoid a purse bid hearing.

Australia’s Tszyu (24-1, 17 knockouts), No. 2 at 154 (come Tuesday), was previously set to face former 147-pound titlist Keith Thurman in a non-title fight. Those plans were changed when Thurman suffered a torn biceps roughly two weeks out from fight night.

Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) raced to not only salvage the show but strengthen the overall lineup.

Fundora (21-1-1, 13 KOs), No. at 154 (come Tuesday), was scheduled to meet Serhii Bohachuk (24-1, 23 KOs), currently No. 10, in the PPV opener. Their bout was to come with the vacant WBC 154-pound title at stake. A switch was made for Fundora to challenge Tszyu, though politics briefly threatened to get in the way of the fight.

WBO officials were hesitant to sanction the billed unification bout, since it still recognizes Ring/lineal champion Jermell Charlo as the WBC champ. Houston’s Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KOs) has relinquished all four major sanctioning body titles, including the WBC where he is now ‘Champion in Recess.’

Support was conditionally offered by the WBC despite its initial resistance. It came on the basis that the winner immediately committed to a mandatory title defense versus Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs). The ruling was made after Crawford, The Ring 147-pound champ and pound-for-pound king, enforced his WBO ‘Super Champion’ status. The designation permits its claimants to immediately challenge for a title in a separate weight division during the ordered mandatory period.

On the surface, the order complicates the suggested plans from Saturday’s show.

Fundora was joined in the ring after his win by former unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence (28-1, 22 KOs), No. 1 at 147. It was heavily suggested prior to Saturday that Spence would face the winner of the main event. That theme carried over into the post-fight in-ring interview.

However, there was a difference of opinion between then and the post-fight press conference.

Fundora informed media that he wanted to next face Crawford. It came in stark contrast to claims made by Sampson Lewkowicz, Fundora’s promoter who stood the party line and insisted Fundora-Spence made the most business sense.

Such a fight will reduce his title load to one, however.

There is also the matter of a deserved Fundora-Tszyu rematch.

Tszyu accepted the makeshift title defense on twelve days’ notice. It came versus an opponent whose physical dimensions required an overhaul at the tail end of training camp. Tszyu prepared for a 5’7” orthodox fighter and career welterweight in Thurman. Fundora is a nearly 6’6” southpaw and a natural junior middleweight.

An early lead evaporated when Tszyu struggled to fight through pouring blood from a cut high atop his scalp. Tszyu inadvertently fell into Fundora’s left elbow during the opening round, which caused the gusher.

Fundora suffered a broken nose from a legal Tszyu punch in the opening round.

Tszyu won on the scorecard of judge Tim Cheatham (116-112). It was overruled by judges Steve Weisfeld (116-112) and David Sutherland (115-113) for Fundora, who made history with the win. At just under 6’6”, he became the tallest fighter ever to win a portion of the 154-pound crown. His victory came while younger sister Gabriela Fundora holds the IBF flyweight title. The two are now the first brother-sister tandem to simultaneously hold major titles.

That dynamic will remain in play, no matter how things shake out with the WBO.

Fundora will still hold the WBC title, though he should technically have to honor a mandatory over there as well.

Bohachuk soundly outpointed Brian Mendoza (22-4, 16 KOs) over twelve rounds to win the interim 154-pound title. The Ukrainian contender was previously due to challenge for the full belt versus Fundora. A deal was struck with his team, including Tom Loeffler of 360 Promotions, to fight for the interim title.

A pre-fight declaration was made by the WBC that the winners of its two title fights would be ordered to meet. That order was not yet publicly made, nor expected anytime soon given recent business trends.

Should Fundora fail to honor the WBO order, Crawford—who has won Ring championships at 135, 140 and 147—will be in line to challenge for the vacant belt. A bid to become a four-division titlist would then come versus the next highest ranked available challenger.

England’s Josh Kelly (15-1-1, 8 KOs) is currently the WBO No. 1-ranked 154-pound contender. However, it is not yet known where Tszyu will land in the next ratings update.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for The Ring and vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America
Follow @JakeNDaBox

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