Sebastian Fundora upsets Tim Tszyu in bloody brawl to become unified champion

Sebastian Fundora was fortunate. He was also good. That combination resulted in the biggest victory of his life.

Fundora used his jab and a high work rate to upset Tim Tszyu by a split decision in a horribly bloody fight to become a unified 154-pound titleholder – his first major championships – on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

One judge had Tszyu winning 116-112 but the other two scored it for Fundora, 116-112 and 115-113. Boxing Junkie also had Fundora winning 116-112, eight rounds to four.

Why was Fundora lucky? Tszyu couldn’t see.

The Aussie got off to a strong start, working his way past his 6-foot-5½ opponent’s long jab to land several eye-catching punches that seemed to portend a strong performance from the champion.

Then, in Round 3, everything changed in an instant.

Tszyu (24-1, 17 KOs) suffered a deep cut on his hairline when his head collided with Fundora’s elbow. Blood gushed into his eyes for the remainder of the fight, impairing his sight and ability to fight effectively, although he never gave up.

And Fundora (21-1-1, 13 KOs) took full advantage. The “Towering Inferno,” a brawler at heart, used his jab and timely power shots to score points and keep Tszyu at a safe distance round after round.

Tszyu tried to overcome the monumental adversity – a giant opponent, a red haze – and had some good rounds, when he landed the cleaner, harder shots. That evidently won over one judge. However, Fundora stayed the course, outworking his favored opponent to have his hand raised.

The victory seemed particularly unlikely given that he had to contend with his own bloody nose and mouth, he was coming off a knockout loss to Brian Mendzoa and he took the fight less than two weeks ago, when Keith Thurman pulled out with a biceps injury.

Nevertheless, after taking Tszyu’s WBO belt and the vacant WBC title, he’s a world champion.

“Like I told you in the locker room, we’ve been praying for this moment for a long time,” Fundora said in the ring. “I’m just happy that Tim Tszyu gave me this opportunity and the opportunity became a dream come true.”

Fundora was asked about his battle with blood coming from his nose and mouth. His response could apply to both him and Tszyu.

“This is boxing, you’re going to get hurt,” he said. “I just gotta be smart. I’ve been telling everyone this whole camp that I’m going to use my brain, use my brain.

“I hope you guys saw me use my boxing skills today and you enjoyed it.”

Fundora also made unusual history with his victory. He and sister Gabriela Fundora reportedly are the only brother and sister to hold world boxing titles simultaneously in the history of the sport.

The new unified 154-pound champ credited his father and trainer, Freddy Fundora, who trains both of his offspring.

“It means the world,” Sebastian Fundora said. “Now I think my dad’s in the running for trainer of year. He did it (guiding two fighters to world titles) in six months. Without him, I wouldn’t be anywhere.

“Without him, our whole family would be nowhere near boxing. I’m so grateful.”

Meanwhile, Tszyu had to try to make sense of his first loss coming in strange and unfortunate circumstances.

He was asked what kept him going with blood in his eyes.

“I told you, I’m an old, throwback fighter, whatever the circumstances,” he said. “I couldn’t see but all credit goes to the man who won tonight. These things happen. The momentum was swinging hard in the first two rounds and then, boom, you’re blinded completely.

“This is boxing,” he added, echoing Fundora. “This is part of the sport. These things happen. Congrats to Fundora, the new king of 154.”

The determination Tszyu demonstrated in the fight certainly will carry over as he moves forward.

He can legitimately say that bad luck played as significant a role as Fundora did in his fate, which should take some of the sting out of his disappointment. He’ll let the cut heal, get back into the gym and then pursue what he believes is his destiny: a special place in boxing history.

“Look, we’ll bounce back,” he said. “… I showed up no matter what. And I always bring the fight. I was given one week [to prepare] but no excuses. I’ll fight whoever, whatever. Errol Spence is here. I’ll fight him, as well as Terence Crawford.

“If you want a good scrap, you know who to call.”

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie