The COVID-19 outbreak in Australia won't get in the way of Tim Tszyu fighting an international opponent in November, despite the star's promoters conceding the process will be a "very very expensive exercise."
Tszyu's future is set to become a lot clearer within days as the WBO considers making the undefeated Sydney star a mandatory challenger for WBO super welterweight champion Brian Castano's belt. Tszyu's promoters No Limit have been lobbying the WBO for months to force the Argentine fighter to fight the Australian.
Earlier this month, Castano rejected talk of fighting Tszyu and called him a joke for suggesting he's running from him, pointing to the Australian's purported reluctance to fight overseas.
Castano is gunning for an immediate rematch with Jermell Charlo (34-1-1), who retained his WBA, WBC and IBF world championship belts when the pair fought out a controversial split decision draw in July.
Tszyu is already the No.1 challenger for the WBO, No.3 contender for the IBF and WBC and ranked No.7 for The Ring Title belt.
If the WBO rules against Tszyu's mandatory claims, the sanctioning body could order him to fight an eliminator bout to earn the right to fight the champion. Russia's Magomed Kurbanov (22-0, 13KO) is the No.3 ranked challenger and would most likely get the shot. Others to be mentioned as possible opponents outside world title negotiations include American Tony Harrison and Brit Liam Smith.
Regardless of who Tszyu faces, the current COVID-19 outbreak sweeping across the country means Tszyu's team has to put more money down to secure a higher calibre opponent. Fighters are demanding much more during negotiations, pushing for certain items and more money for their compulsory quarantine upon entering the country.
Speaking to Wide World of Sports, No Limit CEO George Rose confirmed he's been in touch with several "world rated" fighters about making the trek Down Under but acknowledged it will be "very costly" to secure a signature. He said they are fully committed to making it happen.
"The hardest part about convincing these world boxing superstars is having to do the two week quarantine prior to continuing their training camp, it's a very difficult process," Rose said. "But it's something we're putting all of our resources into.
"It's very expensive to meet their demands of their quarantine requests but I'm confident we can get it done and Tim will have a very high calibre opponent for November.
"Tim's at that level where he needs to prepare himself for a world title level opponent. He needs to fight tough opposition to prepare him for that. Someone that's going to push him and really test him."
Depending on the state of the outbreak in November, Tszyu's promoters will need to gamble and hope it pays off. They'll be crossing their fingers that vaccination rates across the nation will be at a level where it becomes safe to stage the fight at a large venue with a big crowd to get their money back and then some. Tszyu's top priority is to move on from fighting local opponents, even though staging one more event against an Aussie based fighter would be more cost-effective and a safer bet.
Tszyu's cold response to Zerafa in lockdown
The only fight that would whet the appetite of fans would be a bout with rival Michael Zerafa, who told Wide World of Sports he's open to fighting his arch nemesis despite pulling out of their fight in July. While Rose conceded anything can happen during the pandemic, he was quick to point out Zerafa had his chance.
"He talked trash about Tim for two years," Rose said. "He was desperate for that fight and when he got it he walked away from it and ruined a great opportunity for Australian boxing.
"Now he's back talking again. It's obvious there is no fight on the cards at the moment. The only time he talks trash about Tim is when there's nothing on offer for him."
If the WBO rules in Tszyu's favour as mandatory challenger for Castano's belt, then it's almost certain he would have to travel to Las Vegas to take on the Argentine.
Even though Tszyu's camp dangled a $10 million carrot to lure either Castano or Charlo to Australia in the past, Castano shut down any chance of travelling to fight Tszyu, saying he fights only in Las Vegas. Rose said his charge has no qualms fighting outside of Australia if that's what he has to do.
"If Tim has to travel overseas there's no concerns over that. We love to fight in front of our Australian fans as much as we can. If we can do it here we will. If not you gotta do what you gotta do," Rose said.
"Timmy will do anything that gets put in front of him. He'll adapt to fighting anyone. He's fought in different states all over the country in other people's backyards and done it successfully. He has no fear of fighting in anyone's backyard."
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