Tim Tszyu was the man of the hour after defeating Tony Harrison in Sydney last weekend, but the fight had something missing according to legendary announcer Michael Buffer. The victory over Harrison, undoubtedly the most significant of Tszyu's boxing career to date, sets the Aussie fighter up for a shot at the unified super welterweight title against Jermell Charlo later in 2023.
A packed house at Qudos Bank Arena saw Tszyu claim a highly-entertaining victory over Harrison in nine rounds, his TKO win coming after a devastating barrage of uppercuts and hooks. It had been deemed a 'risky' fight for Tszyu to take, given his planned fight against Charlo had been delayed only due to an injury sustained by his upcoming opponent during training camp.
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However the spectacle wasn't quite to the taste of all boxing observers - notably that of Buffer, a long-time icon of the sport and announcer for some of the biggest fights in boxing's history. While the 78-year-old was full of praise for both fighters, there was an aspect of the overall show that he wasn't impressed with.
The sheer number of sponsor logos festooning almost every bit of available space in the arena was off-putting for Buffer, who took to social media to rue the excessive commercialisation of the sport. Posting a photo of Tszyu's fight with Harrison next top a shot from the 1982 bout between Gerry Cooney and Larry Holmes, Buffer bemoaned how much boxing had changed over the last 40 years.
"Remember when fans could sit at ringside or lower level seats and actually see the action in the ring? This is now a disgrace! Take a look at 40 yrs ago and now!” he wrote.
Even the ropes were festooned with logos from various sponsors, however the increased thickness of the ropes in comparison to their 80s equivalents would also have much to do with the safety of fighters. Nevertheless, many fans were clamouring for a return to the less heavily marketed days gone by.
Buffer also pointed out that advertisements on the floor of the ring also had a tendency to become slippery, likening it to the painted logos that proved controversial in the Super Bowl earlier this year.
Even Tszyu and his brother Nikita, who won his undercard bout, both showed up wearing shirts emblazoned with countless logos from sponsors.
Remember when fans could sit at ringside or lower level seats and actually see the action in the ring? This is now a disgrace!
Take a look at 40 yrs ago and now!😳 pic.twitter.com/1tcXc2Z522
— Michael Buffer (@Michael_Buffer) March 15, 2023
Look at the super wide ring ropes to accommodate advertising & promotion!
— Michael Buffer (@Michael_Buffer) March 15, 2023
The promo on the canvas tends to be slippery too. Marketing getting in the way of the sport.
— Walter (@WalterBoxing) March 15, 2023
Agreed- I was pushed out of the way and had to pay an astronomical price for tickets for a sport I care deeply about - my dad, @IrishWayneKelly loved #boxing and I have followed the sport ever since he became a ref. oh, how times have changed…
— Jackie Kelly (@JaxyK) March 15, 2023
Bless you for saying that because it's to the point where the Worse seats is the first five rows closest to the ring
— Sinuhe lamar (@DamienLavar) March 15, 2023
Referee in Tim Tszyu fighht criticised over late stoppage
Tszyu had his American opponent on the ropes and unleashed a succession of ferocious uppercuts that Harrison had no answer for. The 32-year-old eventually crashed to the canvas after the vicious onslaught from Tszyu, but referee Danrex Tapdasan still did not wave off the contest right away. Instead, he let a clearly wobbly Harrison get to his feet, before finally declaring the Aussie the winner.
Former world champion Shawn Porter Jr was among those to criticise the role of the official, insisting that Tapdasan should have stopped the fight much earlier than he did. He said when it became clear that Harrison could no longer effectively defend himself, the referee should have intervened to save the fighter from more punishment.
“Look at this right here, uppercut, uppercut, I have to say, I’m very mad at this ref for allowing Tony to take this many clean shots and not step in,” Porter said on Main Event’s coverage. “I felt like the ref should’ve been there. Tony’s head goes out of the ring, the ref is still allowing this fight to take place."
Main Event’s Ben Damon also described replays of the savage finish from Tszyu as painful viewing and agreed the referee should have stepped in earlier. “That’s hard to watch because Tony Harrison is a star and he’s been such a brilliant part of this promotion and he took some enormous shots with his back turned and his senses gone,” Damon said. “We hope he’s OK because he’s a special character.”
Marginally ahead on points, Tszyu exploded to life in the ninth to emulate his Hall-of-Fame father Kostya in becoming a world champion. The hometown favourite's victory came 28 years after Kostya knocked out Jake Rodriguez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to capture his maiden world title.
The Tszyus join an elite group of just six father-son boxing world champions, including legends Julio Cesar Chavez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, and Leon and Corey Spinks.
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