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Should Tszyu vs. Fundora fight have been stopped? Australian boxer loses world title in bloodbath

Tim Tszyu’s gory 12-round split decision loss to Sebastian Fundora at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday has sent shockwaves through boxing. The previously unbeaten Australian sensationally lost his WBO super welterweight title and – at least for now – a shot at pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford.

Through two rounds, Tszyu looked as comfortable as most boxing insiders had expected him to look against Fundora. He timed his southpaw opponent’s leads with sharp counters and targeted the body with big right hands. And then it happened.

Tszyu was caught by Fundora’s elbow, which opened a gash of approximately two-and-a-half inches in length just above the hairline. “I looked down and it was like a fountain [of blood],” stated Tszyu at the post-fight press conference. “I thought, ‘This can’t be good.’ My eyesight was gone. Literally couldn’t see, I had to wipe my eyes non-stop.”

MORE: Fundora edges Tszyu by split decision

When the bell rang for round three, the referee called time and summoned the doctor to look at the champion’s cut. The signs weren’t good. After wiping away the blood, the doctor shook his head toward referee Harvey Dock, obviously alarmed at the depth and severity of the laceration. Almost reluctantly, the pair agreed for the bout to continue.

For 10 full rounds, the cut bled profusely from bell to bell. A renowned sharpshooter, Tszyu struggled to land accurately and he couldn’t judge distance. As one would expect, Fundora capitalized, boxing smartly at range and piling up the points en route to the biggest win of his career to date.

However, questions have to be asked over what was allowed to transpire in Las Vegas.

What are the rules for stopping a fight due to cuts?

  • If a cut is caused by a punch, then the un-cut fighter wins by TKO.
  • If a cut is caused by an accidental foul, then the result is decided by the judges after four full rounds have been completed. Before that, the bout would be declared a technical draw.

For the most part, cuts are opened around the eyes. If the wound is below the eye, it’s usually passed off as insignificant. However, if a fighter is cut above the eye, then the situation is far more perilous.

A boxer’s vision being impeded puts them at risk of being caught more often than would normally be the case. For that reason, fights being called off due to cuts is a regular occurrence.

So what happened with Tszyu? Well, firstly the wound was on the head, which seemed to skew the entire decision-making process. If that much blood was coming from the eyebrow, then it’s highly likely that the fight would have been stopped.

What’s the difference, though? Tszyu’s vision was still hampered and the cut had a detrimental effect on his performance. After the damage was sustained, he was nowhere near as effective as he was pre-cut and he was also tagged more by Fundora. Those are the circumstances that frequently lead to a cut-induced stoppage.

Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to stop the bout lay with referee Dock, who allowed this match to continue.

What can the corner use to stop cuts from bleeding?

As acclaimed trainer Joe Goossen explained during the Amazon Prime Video broadcast, the legal substances allowed in the corner to help with cuts are Avitene, thrombin, and adrenaline (1:1000). These are medicines that act together to reduce blood flow.

Whatever was being used in Tszyu’s corner wasn’t working.

What would have happened if Tszyu vs. Fundora had been stopped?

Before four rounds were completed, this bout would have been declared a technical draw because the damage Tszyu sustained was caused by an accidental elbow. The Australian would therefore have retained his WBO title, while the WBC version, which was also at stake, would have remained vacant.

After four rounds were completed, the fight would have gone to the scorecards and this is where the Australian’s team ran into trouble. From round three on, Fundora began banking rounds, so Team Tszyu would have felt compelled to continue rather than risk losing a technical decision on the cards.

MORE: SN’s top-12 best pound-for-pound boxers

Does Tim Tszyu have a rematch clause?

According to Tszyu’s promoter, George Rose of No Limit Boxing, there was a rematch clause in the original contract.

“[Fundora’s promoter Sampson Lewkowicz] knows there’s a rematch clause,” said Rose. “If we want to take it, we’ll take it. I’d love to see Tim take that and win them belts straight back. 

“I’m happy for a rematch to happen next and good luck trying to get out of it.”

However, Lewkowicz seemed to shy away from an immediate sequel. “I believe the promoter needs to maximize the interest of the fighter,” said the head of Sampson Boxing, who also stated that Tszyu would need to “wait one fight at least.”

Contracts aside, Fundora stepped into this world title fight on 12 days’ notice after original opponent Keith Thurman was injured. One could call that freak luck. When you factor that in along with Tszyu’s injury, Fundora should feel obliged to fight him again. 

Do we see Fundora vs. Tszyu 2, or will the new unified champion go a different route?

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