Tony Harrison encountered a different Tim Tszyu than the contender he studied on film.

Harrison acknowledged after his ninth-round technical knockout loss to Tszyu on Sunday afternoon that the unbeaten Australian was better than he expected in their fight for the WBO interim junior middleweight title. The former WBC super welterweight champ commended Tszyu’s improvement from his last fight – a 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat of Terrell Gausha – during their post-fight press conference at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia.

“I seen a completely different fighter,” Harrison said, “well not completely different, just a sharper fighter than the fighter I saw fight Terrell. So, I think he’s getting better, man. Yeah, yeah, they’re doing a good job with the kid, man. He’s rapidly getting better. His timing, his reaction is really good, so yeah, that’s a good thing for him. He reacts really good.”

Detroit’s Harrison declined to predict who will win when Tszyu challenges Jermell Charlo for the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 154-pound championships in his next bout. Tszyu proved to Harrison, however, that he is at least deserving of a shot at the four junior middleweight championships Charlo owns.

“I can’t answer how that’s gonna go, but you know, like I said, they got a guy that just beat me,” Harrison said. “So, all I could say is he’s up for the challenge. You know what I mean?”

Charlo confirmed during Showtime’s telecast Saturday night that he’ll fight Tszyu next. Houston’s Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs) broke two bones in his left hand while sparring late in December, which caused the postponement of his January 28 fight against Tszyu in Las Vegas.

Harrison handed Charlo his lone loss four years ago, but Charlo avenged that close 12-round defeat in December 2018 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn by knocking out Harrison in the 11th round of their rematch in December 2019 at Toyota Arena in Ontario, California. Harrison called Tszyu “stupid” for fighting him, when the Sydney native could’ve just waited for Charlo’s fractured left hand to heal and rescheduled his guaranteed shot at their division’s fully unified champion.

Tszyu (22-0, 16 KOs) demonstrated his readiness for his true title shot by pressuring Harrison throughout their bout, landing the flusher punches and taking out Harrison (29-4-1, 21 KOs) in the ninth round.

Two right hands by Tszyu hurt Harrison badly with just over a minute to go in the ninth round. Tszyu capitalized by blasting Harrison with five consecutive right uppercuts while Harrison was backed against the ropes.

A right-left combination sent Harrison to the canvas with 39 seconds to go in the ninth round. Harrison beat the count of referee Danrex Tapdasan, who still stopped their scheduled 12-round bout because he didn’t think Harrison was fit to continue.

The 32-year-old Harrison lost by knockout or technical knockout for the fourth time in his 11-year pro career.

In Tszyu’s previous fight 11 months ago, Cleveland’s Gausha (23-3-1, 12 KOs) dropped him in the first round. Tszyu quickly recovered from that flash knockdown and won their 12-rounder on all three scorecards (116-111, 115-112, 114-113) last March 26 at The Armory in Minneapolis.

“He improved, man,” Harrison said. “He’s an improved fighter from the Terrell Gausha fight. He’s sharp. He’s sharp, man.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.