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WBO could strip Tim Tszyu of his title if he loses catchweight bout to Keith Thurman

Tim Tszyu (right) and Keith Thurman. Photo credit: Esther Lin

WBO junior middleweight champion Tim Tszyu 24-0 (17) could be stripped of his title if he loses to ex-WBC and WBA welterweight ruler Keith Thurman 30-1 (22) in their 12-round, 155-pound non-title bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 30.

The news was broken Main Event’s Ben Damon on Friday morning.

“The WBO has raised the stakes for Tim Tszyu v Keith Thurman with the decision that Tszyu will be stripped of his world title if he loses the 155lb non-title fight with Thurman,” Damon posted to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

The 29-year-old Tszyu from Sydney, Australia was in negotiations for make his Vegas debut against Erickson ‘Hammer’ Lubin 26-2 (18), the number two contender in the WBO’s rankings.

But when a deal could not be reached and the proposed fight date fast approaching, Team Tszyu pivoted to the unranked 35-year-old Thurman from Clearwater, Florida who has not boxed for more than two years.

Section 15 (a) of the WBO rules state: “A WBO champion shall not participate in a non-championship fight that is not a WBO Championship without prior authorization of the WBO World Championship Committee. This authorization shall be subject to such conditions as the WBO World Championship Committee determines.

“In addition, this authorization will be granted only on the condition that the WBO Champion pay a fee to the WBO that is the equivalent of the amount that the WBO Champion would have paid to the WBO if the non-championship fight were conducted as a WBO Championship fight.”

The news comes hot on the heels on an interview WBO president Paco Valcarcel conducted with FightHype this week, confirming early discussion have taken place with former undisputed two-weight world champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford 40-0 (31) about moving up in weight and challenging for the WBO belt.

As the reigning WBO champion at 147-pounds, Crawford would be entitled to be installed as the number one contender if he does decide to move up to 154-pounds.

“The winner of that fight will have a tough cookie for his next mandatory, let me tell you,” Valcarcel said of the Tszyu vs Thurman fight.

“Crawford will be here next week. We’re going to talk about that fight. I’m not authorised to tell (more, but) he love to fight at 154. But I’m not authorised to make it public.

“I have been talking to Crawford for long now… he’ll be in Puerto Rico on Friday. You are the first person I’ve talked to about the possibility of Crawford moving to 154”.

Tszyu confirmed that there have been preliminary discussions about a fight against the 36-year-old southpaw from Omaha, Nebraska, who is widely regarded as the best boxer on the planet at any weight.

“There have been talks between us,” Tszyu said to Fox Sports Australia. “And I give Crawford all respect. He’ll fight anyone. And that’s why I see him as such a great challenge.

“But I also see him as being beatable.

“But there’s a lot going on (regarding who could be next). It could be Crawford, Errol Spence, whichever one is easiest to make.

“That’s why this upcoming fight means so much… I win and the possibilities are endless.”