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Fundora dethrones Tszyu in bloody battle

TIM Tszyu is a bloody mess as he battles Sebastian Fundora in their world junior middleweight title fight. Fundora prevailed via split decision to win the WBO junior middleweight and WBC crowns. | STEVE MARCUS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Tall American southpaw Sebastian Fundora stunned previously unbeaten Australian Tim Tszyu to unify two world junior middleweight boxing titles in a bout that became a bloody spectacle.

After a strong start, Tszyu struck his head accidentally on the left elbow of the 6-foot-5 challenger in the second round, a deep bleeding gash opened above his forehand turning the Aussie’s face crimson round after round, blood blinding him for much of the fight.

Judges scored the fight 116-112 and 115-113 for Fundora and 116-112 for Tszyu, giving the US fighter a split decision victory for Tszyu’s World Boxing Organization junior middleweight title and the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) crown.

“I’m just happy Tim Tszyu gave me the opportunity and I made it a dream come true,” Fundora said.

“The way I won my belt, it was an honor to share my belt and make history with him.”

Fundora, 26, improved to 21-1 with one draw in becoming the tallest 154-pound champion in history while Tszyu fell to 24-1.

Tszyu, a 29-year-old from Sydney and the son of former light-welterweight world champion Kostya Tszyu, admitted the blood that turned his face crimson most of the night impacted his effort.

“I couldn’t see,” Tszyu said.

“But all credit belongs to the man who won.”

“These things happen. The momentum was rolling. I was swinging hard. Then boom, you’re blinded.”

“Congratulations to Sebastian. He’s the king at 154. We’ll bounce back.”

In three other world title fights on the Las Vegas card, Mexico’s Julio Cesar Martinez retained his WBC flyweight title, Cuban Erislandy Lara kept his World Boxing Association middleweight crown and Mexico’s Isaac Cruz took the WBA super lightweight title from American Rolando Romero.

Tszyu was to have faced former welterweight world champion Keith Thurman, but the American was hurt in training and replaced two weeks ago by Fundora, who moved up from a planned undercard bout.

“I was given one week. No excuses,” Tszyu said of the opponent switch.

Tszyu landed a hard right to Fundora’s head in round one, the champion quickly finding his timing and range, but once his head struck Fundora’s elbow while making a movie inside, the bleeding began and the fight changed.

Tszyu was examined by a doctor after the second and sixth rounds and each time was allowed to continue.

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