This Saturday on Showtime (11:30 PM ET), two of the best in two of the sport’s most intriguing weight classes will do what they do every time they step in the ring.

They’ll try to win.

They’ll be doing so at a moment when losing might sting worse than normal.

For Jr. middleweight Tim Tszyu (22-0, 16 KO) and Jr. featherweight Ra’eese Aleem (20-0, 12 KO), this weekend in Australia is as much about what could be as it is about what they have in front of them. They have to keep the latter in their focus or the former could evaporate.

In the case of Tszyu, what could be remains the same as it was earlier this year when he stopped former titlist Tony Harrison. Tszyu is next up for undisputed Jr. middleweight champion Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KO). The obstacle this time around is former welterweight title challenger Carlos Ocampo (35-2, 23 KO). 

If Tszyu is watching the tape of Ocampo’s one-round loss to Errol Spence, he’s not watching enough. Ocampo is 13-1 since that loss, with his only other defeat coming over the twelve-round distance to Sebastian Fundora.

And Fundora’s last fight is all the cautionary tale Tszyu would ever need. Fundora was undefeated and just a step behind Tszyu in the pecking order at Jr. middleweight. Brian Mendoza knocked Fundora out in his last fight to push Fundora’s hopes for a title shot from imminent to not so much in a night.

On the plus side, Charlo’s status as injured champion in the wings is giving Tszyu additional rounds to mature his game. Tszyu would have been an underdog if the fight happened earlier this year. He likely still will be when the fight happens. 

Every round Tszyu adds to his experience can only narrow the gap. 

Aleem’s hopes are less imminent than Tszyu. His highest current sanctioning body ranking is number two in the WBO. He’s ranked fifth by the IBF and will face their number four, Sam Goodman (14-0, 7 KO) on the Tszyu-Ocampo undercard. Goodman will be the crowd favorite, fighting in front of his countrymen.

Aleem will have to tune out the noise and hope he’s only a fight or two away at a critical moment at 122 lbs.

While the news of Errol Spence-Terence Crawford has dominated headlines in the last few weeks, it might not be the best of the week when it happens in July. Just days earlier in Japan, former undisputed bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (24-0, 21 KO) will move up four pounds to challenge unified titlist Stephen Fulton (21-0, 8 KO).

It’s boxing at its best, a clash of two fighters in their absolute prime facing off at a moment when there is no question both men are still at their absolute physical peak. It’s also about as big a money fight as boxing can have so low on the scale. Inoue is the money man of boxing’s lightest classes, offering the chance for opponents to make career high paydays and incentive to travel to Japan to cash in.

Aleem may or may not get the winner down the road. The other unified titlist Marlon Tapales (37-3, 19 KO) has already been approved to face the winner of Fulton-Inoue if that winner elects to complete unification of the division. A victorious Fulton, in one or two more fights in the class, could mean a move to featherweight before Aleem gets his shot. Inoue or Tapales ending up undisputed could come just in time for Aleem to assume a mandatory.   

An Inoue loss could also keep alive possibilities for a big payday should Inoue elect to try to collect belts after Fulton is gone. 

That makes Saturday high stakes for both Aleem and Goodman in a division with a rainmaker unlike anything it’s seen before. Goodman will be new to the US audience. Aleem is not and is paired with Tszyu as a spotlight on potential futures. 

How clear the future can be will be determined in the ring this weekend.    

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at