Tim Tszyu stunned by Sebastian Fundora as Michael Zerafa's world title bid fails

The Aussie was cut badly in round two by an accidental elbow and despite fighting valiantly lost a razor thin decision to Sebastian Fundora.

Tim Tszyu has been stunned by Sebastian Fundora in his Las Vegas debut, with the Aussie suffering the first loss of his career via split decision. In what was meant to be Tszyu's coming out party to America, the Aussie's fight with Fundora was turned on its head after he was cut open by an accidental elbow as the pair clinched up in the second round.

From then on a bloody war ensued as Tszyu was forced to fight with blood constantly seeping into his eyes as the bleeding from a forehead cut was unable to be stemmed. Despite that, his corner and the ringside doctor allowed the fight to continue, with it going all 12 rounds as Tszyu showed incredible fighting spirit to slug it out with Fundora.

Tim Tszyu has been stunned by Sebastian Fundora in his Las Vegas debut as Michael Zerafa's world title dreams were also dashed.
Tim Tszyu has been stunned by Sebastian Fundora in his Las Vegas debut as Michael Zerafa's world title dreams were also dashed.

In the end, Fundora was awarded the victory via split decision (116-112, 115-113, 112-116) and the Aussie will likely feel hard done by after clearly winning the opening two rounds before the cut came into play, hampering his vision for the remainder of the fight. The fight was threatened to be stopped throughout but Tszyu was allowed to continue despite blood flowing from his forehead into his eyes and all over his face.

Commentator Abner Mares said after round two: "Tszyu is going to have to take some chances, he doesn’t know if this fight might get stopped". For the next 10 rounds, Tszyu mixed his punches in with wiping away the blood from his eyes. In what Joe Goossen described as a "blood and guts" clash, Tszyu dug deep as Fundora took control of the middle rounds with effective combinations.

Mares said in commentary: "Tim Tszyu’s missing more than usual. I haven’t seen him miss this much". It was clear his vision was greatly affected as he dealt with a boxer that he only had 12 days to prepare for.

Sebastian Fundora hits Tim Tszyu, of Australia in a super welterweight title bout Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Tim Tszyu was cut open by an accidental elbow in the second round but battled on.

After his original opponent, Keith Thurman pulled out with injury, Tszyu didn't hesitate to take on the tricky task of Fundora on just 12 days’ notice. The lanky 197cm boxer - whose only loss was to Brian Mendoza, the man Tszyu beat in his previous fight - caused the Aussie some serious problems following the cut being opened up but was unable to put him away in somewhat of a morale victory for Tszyu.

"You can’t take away from what Fundora is doing but Tim Tszyu became a much different fighter when his face became a crimson mess," Goossen pointed out. His co-commentator said: "He’s trying to parry punches and wipe his face at the same time. It’s really tough."

The latter rounds were very even, with Fundora landing more but Tszyu's blows were heavier. The Aussie went for the knockout in the final round but fell just short. "The character, the guts, the will from Tim Tszyu on full display," Ranallo said. Aussie boxing fans were furious with the result, believing that despite fighting with impacted vision Tszyu still did enough to win the fight.

Michael Zerafa suffers brutal world title blow in loss to Erislandy Lara

Michael Zerafa's world title hopes have been dashed in just six minutes after Erislandy Lara knocked him out with one second left in the second round. With the WBA middleweight title on the line, Lara looked a class above from the outset before landing a show-stopping left hook that sent Zerafa tumbling to the canvas to emphatically retain his WBA middleweight crown in Las Vegas.

The 32-year-old Aussie was startled by the shot, shaking his head to the referee before stumbling to his feet before the fight was quickly waved off. Commentator Abner Mares said: "In lightning-quick fashion, the Cuban missile of Erislandy Lara starches Michael Zerafa".

“It is not Zerafa doing anything wrong, it’s Lara doing everything right. The angle was perfect for Lara… he sets it up with that jab.” Megan Barnard said on Main Event: "Heartbreak for Michael Zerafa, who has his dream of a world title shattered".

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 30: WBA middleweight champion Erislandy Lara poses with his belt after defeating Michael Zerafa in a title fight at T-Mobile Arena on March 30, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lara retained his title with a second-round knockout. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
Michael Zerafa has had his world title dream dashed after being knocked out in the second round by Erislandy Lara. Image: Getty

The Aussie boxing villain looked badly outclassed by Lara who has held the belt since 2021. “A guy like Lara, yes he’s aging, but he’s aging gracefully,” American boxing great Andre Ward said on Main Event. "His IQ allows him to overcome some of what he lost getting older. But one thing he hasn’t lost is accuracy and power and that’s what we saw on display tonight.

"You could tell Zerafa was very tight early in the fight. He reacted to every feint Lara threw at him but then you look at Lara and he looked like he was taking a walk around the park. He was taking his time, he was setting up his left hand and he landed it and fight over."

Zerafa had dedicated the fight to older sister Michelle, who had surprised him by being ringside despite undergoing treatment for breast cancer. It was the Aussie's first fight in more than a year and he will now have to go back to the drawing board if he is to make a world title run again.

with AAP