Tim Tszyu isn’t the man Tony Harrison is preparing for in high-risk interim title fight

Keep calm and play basketball. It might not sound like the standard catchphrase when things in life go wrong, but it’s exactly what Tim Tszyu did when breaking the news of his blockbuster fight with undisputed welterweight champion Jermell Charlo became.

“It was Christmas Day, so we played a little basketball and then moved to Vegas and then went to our training camp like we were still fighting anyway,” Tszyu said The sports news.

Tim Tszyu is ready to break the will of American Tony Harrison

After clawing his way to the top of the competition with a mix of brutal body punches and a dexterous eye for precision, Tszyu had earned a shot at the champion on American soil.

MORE: ‘He’s so easy’ – Tim Tszyu opponent Tony Harrison’s brutal assessment of the Aussie star

He traveled to Los Angeles with his team to work under the umbrella of renowned trainer Joe Goossen and prepare for the biggest fight of his career to date.

But his dreams of fighting for the undisputed crown collapsed in the middle of his camp when Charlo suffered a broken hand.

“I was sparring and I threw this beautiful shot and as soon as it landed I knew something was wrong,” the 154-pound champion revealed at the time.

“I immediately felt my hand throbbing. I had two x-rays and an MRI to see what was going on. It showed that it was broken in two places.”

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Facing the prospect of a fruitless trip to the US, the Australian informed his management, No Limit Boxing, to find him a new opponent. Anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Enter brash Detroit native and former world champion Tony Harrison (29-3-1). The veteran – who is the only man to defeat Charlo – left a trail of devastation during his promotional appearances for the March 12 WBO super welterweight bout in Sydney.

He likened Tszyu to an elephant for being said to be so easy to beat, questioned the logic of the Australian’s team in continuing a fight with him when he was already the mandatory challenger, and stressed the difference in skill between Americans in each and Australian boxers chance granted to him at the microphone.

“I agree,” Tszyu said in reference to that last statement. “But I’m not like every Australian fighter.”

Whether or not Harrison was trying to make headlines on purpose, it’s water off Tszyu’s back.

“It’s the same every time,” he said.

“It’s all a circus for me. On fight night I want to prove everything.

“I’m just totally focused… and I’m not letting it get to me. At the end of the day, this is the boxing industry. The longer you are there, the more you will learn about it. Words are just words.”

As for the elephant comparison? Tszyu was less willing to let that barb slide.

“That’s the thing, I want to be like a kid surprise — he won’t know what’s coming,” he said.

“If he really believes that and it helps him sleep better at night, then so be it.

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“But if you go in there thinking you can hit me and you can’t, it’s going to break your will.”

Could there be a possible middleweight championship fight between Tim Tszyu and Michael Zerafa in the future?

After spending an extended amount of time at camp preparing for Charlo, Harrison presents another proposal with his desire to keep his distance and his jab working overtime.

Although Tszyu has spoken in the past about how much progress and change can occur in a boxer in just 10 weeks.

In Tszyu’s opinion, the man Harrison thinks he’s preparing for may not actually be on the other side of the ring when the bell rings for the opening round.

“I’m comfortable now when I’m uncomfortable,” Tszyu said.

“That’s my biggest improvement – being able to stay calm in high-pressure situations.”

The Aussie has made no secret of his desire to chase those high pressure situations in 2023. His fight with Harrison is on the horizon but there are many challenges beyond that as Tszyu wants to stay active.

Charlo is undoubtedly high on the hit list after Tszyu promised he would be back for him “once he’s ready and healed”.

However, there is one boxer with whom the 28-year-old still wants to settle accounts: Michael Zerafa.

The two share a heated rivalry after their planned fight previously fell through at the last minute. And though Tszyu vows never to fight him, in the not too distant future they appear once again on a collision course for what may be the biggest fight of all time on the coast of Australia.

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“I couldn’t care less about Zerafa,” Tszyu replied in response to rumors of a possible middleweight title fight against “Pretty Boy” somewhere in the future.

“He really is that irrelevant and just a loudmouth. I don’t pay attention to such people.”

But the undefeated Sydneysider quickly brushed aside Zerafa’s denial that he was headed for defeat in his clash with Harrison next month.

“With Zerafa, in the last seven fights, he predicted that I would lose,” he said. “So, welcome to the eighth prediction.”

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