Liam Smith is open to fighting Tim Tszyu in a final eliminator in Australia to become mandatory challenger for new WBO super-welterweight champion Brian Castano.
Castano, who captured the WBO crown last Saturday against Patrick Teixeira, was previously the sanctioning body’s No. 1 ranked challenger. Tszyu, son of former 140lbs ruler Kostya, and Smith (29-2-1, 16 KOs) are the next highest ranked contenders.
Smith is currently awaiting confirmation of his next contest, with a bout against the WBO’s No. 6 rated boxer, Magomed Kurbanov, a possibility for the last week in April or the first week in May in Russia.
‘Beefy’ believes that victory could secure him the mandatory challenger position or result in him taking on Tszyu (17-0, 13 KOs) for the right to face Castano.
“The kid I’m going to fight next is in the top 10 with the WBO,” former WBO 154lbs champion Smith told Boxing Social. “I’m number three, Tim Tszyu is two. If I win, I’ll go above Tszyu again. [The WBO] will either order me to fight Tszyu in a final eliminator, which is a massive fight, or I’ll be mandatory for [Castano].
“If they order a final eliminator with Tim Tszyu, that’s a world title fight in itself. That’ll be a world title fight, without a belt on the line. It’ll be good money and a huge fight, so I’m in a good position.”
Since being knocked down in the opening round of his 2017 clash with Wade Ryan, Tszyu has hardly put a foot wrong. Last year, Tszyu produced a career-best performance against Jeff Horn, halting the former WBO welterweight champion in the eighth frame.
Despite Tszyu impressive rise through the ranks, Smith is still not entirely convinced that the 26-year-old is the real deal. However, Smith believes that the Australian will prove his championship credentials if he defeats Dennis Hogan on March 31.
Hogan gave former WBO super-welterweight champion Jaime Munguia the toughest fight of his championship reign, losing by majority decision in 2019. If Tszyu prevails, ‘Beefy’ is more than happy to travel to Australia.
“It’s not a given that he beats Dennis Hogan next, that’s a tough fight for him,” said Smith. “This will tell you more about him, whether he can fight or if he’s been built up and matched well, because Hogan can fight. [Hogan] will make you tick boxes, more questions about Tim Tszyu will be answered in this fight than any. Hogan is not the best on the eye, but he can fight, he can make it an awkward night and he’s a tough Irishman.
“With Tszyu being who he is, they are doing massive numbers now. They don’t have to move out of Australia, I’m sure they’ll pay good money for us to go to Australia. Let’s see what happens.”