Tim Tszyu did not hide his appreciation for the strategy Jermell Charlo employed in his successful attempt at unifying the 154-pound division.

The Houston-based Charlo defeated Argentina’s Brian Castano by dramatic 10th-round knockout in their much-anticipated rematch in May at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, to grab hold of all four belts in the junior middleweight class.

Tszyu, the Australian 154-pound contender and son of famed boxer Kostya Tszyu, was ringside for the fight, scouting his potential next opponent; Tszyu is the mandatory challenger for Charlo’s WBO belt. BoxingScene.com reported recently that the two sides have essentially agreed to fight each other later this year.

Tszyu said he was surprised by Charlo’s decision to stand trade at times in the fight, a decision, Tszyu noted, helped the Houstonian pull out the victory over the pressure offense of Castano. Tszyu praised Charlo for his ability to switch from trying to box around the ring to being on the front foot.

“I think Charlo played it very smart,” Tszyu said on a recent episode of The PBC Podcast. “At first, I didn’t expect him to trade punches and stop his ground and actually stay there and trade. I thought he was going to be boxing and moving. He usually doesn’t like too much pressure. But he played it very smart.”

The first half of the rematch between Charlo and Castano seemed to mirror their first fight last July, which ended in a draw. But after the middle rounds, Charlo began to pull away, countering effectively and landing hard shots. Eventually, in the 10th round, Charlo caught Castano with a left hook in the pocket that sent the Argentinian crumbling to the canvas. Castano recovered only to drop to his knees again after a flurry by Charlo.  

“He used his game plan quite well,” Tszyu said. “Once the pace really slowed down for Castano I think that’s when Charlo really took control and was able to breathe and make his shots more powerful. But when Castano put the pace on the shots weren’t as crisp.”