Premier Boxing Champions

In many cases, a late replacement opponent can remove intrigue from a pay-per-view main event. That is not the case on Saturday, when Sebastian Fundora steps in to challenge Tim Tszyu for his WBO junior middleweight title, as well as the vacant WBC belt.

Fundora received the opportunity to step into the main event when former world champion Keith Thurman was forced out of his bout with Tszyu due to injury. It's no minor change in opponent, with the musclebound Thurman standing 5-foot-7 to Fundora's towering 6-foot-5.

This gives Fundora a fundamental advantage in fight preparation as he is always training to fight a shorter man while Tszyu now faces a man nearly a foot taller than the man he spent a training camp preparing for.

"The show goes on and destiny awaits. Saturday night we get to fight for the belts," Tszyu said at the final press conference. "It's all about collecting belts and collecting legacy. We're going to show that the Tszyu name is the greatest boxing family of all time.

"It's quite hard to prepare for a fighter like Fundora. But a true champion rises to the occasion. I came here as a throwback fighter and that's what I want to be. I'm living the way I speak. I'm here to do exactly what I say."

Fundora is coming into the fight fresh off his first career loss, a stunning knockout at the hands of Brian Mendoza. Fundora had been cracked and dropped before, a product of preferring to fight on the inside despite his obvious reach advantage over every fighter he shares the ring with.

"Losses happen in boxing," Fundora said. "I made a mistake and I paid for it. Everything has still lined up the way it should be and now we have a chance to find out who the best fighter at 154 pounds is."

The inside-fighting style Fundora brings to the ring should make for a fan-friendly clash with Tszyu, who has proven himself a durable fighter who likes to fight on the inside and has used those tools to compile a 24-0 record and grab a world championship. If both men are willing to stand inside and exchange, the potential for them to create one of the best fights of 2024 does exist.

There are some potential extra stakes for the winner, with huge fights against the likes of former undisputed welterweight champion Terence Crawford or former unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. possibly in play. Those fighters are both moving up in weight and the allure of capturing a pair of world championships at their new weight would be strong.

In the co-feature bout, Rolando Romero looks to defend his WBA junior welterweight title for the first time when he takes on Isaac Cruz. Romero won the title in somewhat controversial fashion against Ismael Barroso last May where he was close to being finished before scoring a knockdown where the referee waved off the action almost immediately. Now, he gets a tough test where the winner could get a rematch with Gervonta "Tank" Davis later this year.

"Everybody thinks this is gonna be a difficult fight, but I think this is gonna be an easy fight. He's gonna run right into something, because he's stupid," Romero said this week. "He's gonna throw and throw and throw again. He does the same stuff over and over again. I'm ready for it."

Cruz, 25, rebounded from his loss to Davis in 2021 nicely with a trio of wins in the last two years. He's coming off a split decision win over Giovanni Cabrera in July.

"I have learned a lot from my recent fights. I know that I don't want to leave it up to the judges," Cruz said. "I'm in great shape and ready to throw hard punches from round one through round 12.

"If he thinks I'm stupid, then he's even stupider. If he thinks I'm just gonna lay down, he's very mistaken. He's gonna realize it on Saturday night."

There are three more title fights on the card on Saturday night. Erislandy Lara will look to defend his WBA middleweight title against Michael Zerafa. Julio Cesar Martinez is back in action when he takes on Angelino Cordova with Martinez's WBC flyweight title at stake. And a pair of junior middleweights will battle for an interim title when Serhii Bohacuk takes on Brian Mendoza.

Let's take a closer look at the rest of the undercard before getting to a prediction and pick on the main event.

Tszyu vs. Fundora fight card, odds

FavoriteUnderdogWeight class

Tim Tszyu (c) -600

Sebastian Fundora +400

WBO and vacant WBC junior middleweight titles

Isaac Cruz -300

Rolando Romero (c) +230

WBA junior welterweight title

Julio Cesar Martinez (c) -375

Angelino Cordova +275

WBC flyweight title

Erislandy Lara (c) -400

Michael Zerafa +300

WBA middleweight title

Serhii Bohachuk

Brian Mendoza

Junior middleweight

Elijah Garcia

Kyrone Davis


Viewing information

Date: March 30 | Location: T-Mobile Arena -- Las Vegas
Start time: 8 p.m. ET (Prelim stream on Prime Video at 6 p.m.)
How to watch: Amazon Prime Video PPV, PPV.com


This fight is much closer than the odds may suggest. Fundora is a unique fighter and Tszyu has had less than two weeks to wrap his head around how to solve a totally different puzzle than Thurman presented. Between travel, cutting weight and the late nature of the replacement, has Tszyu spent a second sparring with much taller men? It seems unlikely Tszyu has done any meaningful live preparation for a completely different type of opponent.

With that in mind, the fight is going to come down to which fighter can purely apply their style in the fight. Fundora doesn't entirely tick the boxes for skills that have troubled Tszyu in the past. With his face-first style, Fundora isn't going to make Tszyu pay for his fairly pedestrian footwork or sit back and counterpunch to take advantage of Tszyu's occasionally wild punches.

This is going to be a close and competitive fight and Fundora has every chance of picking up the win, especially if Tszyu can't hurt him when they're trading shots inside. I do believe Tszyu can hurt Fundora though and will do so enough to edge out a close decision, if not a stoppage in the late rounds. Pick: Tszyu via UD