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New opponent for Tim Tszyu after Thurman withdraws

Plus, William Zepeda, Nathan Heaney and other things we learned this week

This article originally appeared in Steve Wellings’ Substack

Boxing is always full of surprises. Let’s look at some of the things we learned over the past week…

Keith Thurman is in marginally better shape than Errol Spence

Once upon a time, Keith Thurman and Errol Spence were neck-and-neck as welterweight stars. Both suffered car accidents of varying severity, and neither man was ever the same fighter as a result. With Thurman’s withdrawal from his scheduled bout with Tim Tszyu, it’s unlikely we’ll see him in a ring again.

Talk about a career that fell off a cliff. Thurman’s inactivity, inertia and inability to stay fit have all crept up on him in one go. There was a strong chance he’d have been capable of messing Tszyu around early before fading in the second half.

After all, Tszyu punches hard to the body and Thurman hates it downstairs. The Floridian can still talk a good game, but his body can no longer keep up. On a strange note, both men’s car accidents occurred around their respective bouts with Shawn Porter. Thurman’s bout with Porter was postponed, while Spence’s happened just weeks after he defeated ‘Showtime’.

Tim Tszyu will take on anybody – ‘Towering Inferno’ next

Meanwhile, by agreeing to match up against Sebastian Fundora, we learned that Tim Tszyu is ready to accept any challenge. Accepting a change of opponent at less than two weeks’ notice is a risky business. As a dedicated body puncher, the ‘Soul Taker’ will have plenty of rib and frame to aim at.

Fundora is obviously extremely tall, has a decent southpaw jab and comes forward in straight lines. It’s easily forgotten that Fundora was laying a bit of a beating on Brian Mendoza before he got dramatically caught out.

Speaking of which, shout out to Mendoza as well who never looks a gift horse in the mouth. The New Mexico puncher has previous with both main eventers. He now tackles big-punching Sergei Bohachuk, who was originally down to fight Fundora before the pack was shuffled ahead of this Prime Video debut. 

Erislandy Lara returns against another Aussie, Michael Zerafa, who has sat on this shot for a long while. Inactive like many of his PBC contemporaries, Lara must surely be near the end of his shelf life.

William Zepeda is more than ready for the lightweight luminaries

The Mexican’s workrate is phenomenal (hopefully all natural). Those types of fighters often crack or fall off a cliff suddenly, so let’s enjoy William Zepeda while he’s at his peak. Even though the craftier boxers will find a way to deal with his offence and slow the output, he’ll be a nightmare to keep at bay.

Poor Maxi Hughes was unable to do so, even though he stood in centre ring and tried to unload everything to gain respect. Zepeda bulldozed his way through. 

Shakur Stevenson was later mentioned as the next Zepeda opponent, although the winner of Lomachenko-Kambosos is more likely. Maxi, meanwhile, can retire with pride given his career exploits. Hughes’ corner made the correct decision deciding to retire their man.

Frank Warren parades his Magnificent 7 – Heaney leads the way

Not so much a learning curve but a realisation of sorts. Put together well-matched domestic boxers and you get good fights. Last Saturday’s TNT offering was solid for the most part.

I can remember the first Magnificent 7 card back in 2010, where Derek Chisora, Matthew Macklin, Nathan Cleverly, and more were the up-and-coming talents on display. Last weekend, promoter Frank Warren showed there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet as he paraded his latest batch in Birmingham.

Nathan Heaney topped the bill with a thrilling British middleweight title draw against Brad Pauls. Heaney just about retained enough energy to last the course.

If handing out thousands of tickets doesn’t take it out of him then the singalong ringwalk with his Stoke faithful certainly would. Pauls more than played his part and can feel hard done to.

Is Joe Joyce finished?

Following back-to-back losses to Zhilei Zhang, former heavyweight contender Joe Joyce looked shopworn and sluggish against Kash Ali, who performed better than expected.

Zach Parker survived a knockdown to outpoint Tyron Zeuge over 10. The German seemed genuinely pleased to be there. Liam Davies goes from strength to strength after crushing capable Erik Robles in two rounds. Nothing much to learn here – Davies is a really good fighter at this level.

‘Big Bang’ Pierce O’Leary scored a very impressive win over Hovhannes Martirosyan. We certainly learned a lot about his future career prospects and it was extremely favourable as he passed a stern gut check. Same for Owen Cooper who upset Eithan James in the battle of unbeatens. 

Finally, we learned a lot about Dennis McCann’s mentality and toughness as well. Fighting a talented undefeated opponent in Brad Strand could’ve got messy after McCann’s last outing. ‘The Menace’ held his discipline and was a worthy winner.

Dillian Whyte is hard to remove from boxing

Despite multiple PED incidents, former heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte returned to action in Castlebar of all places. The portly pugilist was seen draped across a bar stool in the corner before opponent Christian Hammer unceremoniously retired from their bout. 

Similar to Jarrell Miller, there is always room for a heavyweight boxer to find redemption and keep on punching, despite the list of offences. Whyte may find himself back on UK soil and in a decent TV slot quicker than you’d think.

Media Credits: Getty Images, X, Frank Warren, ESPN, Sporting News.

About Steve: Experienced boxing writer, author of 8 books and podcaster of over 500 eps. 20 years in the sport. Covered hundreds of shows for newspapers and Boxing News magazine. Chief video script writer for Motivedia channel and BN+. For enquiries: stevenwellings1982@gmail.com.


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years