Tim Tszyu's hopes of getting a world title shot have taken a major blow after the super welterweight unification bout between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano ended in the most controversial of circumstances.
Despite Castano producing a dominant display throughout the entire duration of the 12-round fight, the judges clearly thought otherwise and ruled the bout to be a split draw.
The official scorecards read 114-113 Castano, 117-111 Charlo and 114-114 tie.
The questionable call (especially from the judge who scored the bout 117-111 in favour of Charlo) has been slated by boxing fans, who flocked to social media to have their say on the matter - some people even labelling the decision a "disgrace".
What the split draw means is that hometown hero Charlo remains the WBC, WBA, IBF and Ring Magazine champion, while Castano retains his WBO title.
And for anyone wanting to get their hands on the belts, the decision could mean the division comes to a grinding halt once again as a rematch between the duo is expected to go ahead later this year.
So for someone like Tszyu, who has earned his shot at the title, he may be forced to wait on the sidelines for even longer now.
That said, the judges' ruling didn't seem to phase the Aussie who made it abundantly clear who he thought had won the bout.
After the fight, he tweeted: "Congrats Brian Castano. I'm ready when you are..."
Congrats Brian Castano.- Tim Tszyu (@Tim_Tszyu) July 18, 2021
I'm ready when you are...
Instead of waiting for the rematch, WBO mandatory contender Tszyu is now tipped to take on British star Liam Smith with the bout expected to take place on Australian shores, although his promoters are still holding out hope of a shot at the strap.
"The draw could turn out to be a good result for us - Tszyu could be next. That was a great fight and you'd be surprised if Charlo wanted to jump straight into a rematch - plus he'll have the other sanctioning bodies breathing down his neck," No Limit Boxing's George Rose said.
"We'll talk to Paco [Francisco Valcarcel] at the WBO today about the prospect of making Tszyu mandatory for Castano's belt and we'll be doing everything possible to make that fight happen before the end of the year."
Elsewhere, other big-name stars in the boxing world seemed equally as confused with the bizarre decision to gift Charlo a belt-saving split draw.
Even respected promoter Lou DiBella chimed in, tweeting: "117-111 Charlo was filled out before the fight. Just awful. Other two scores were within reason. Draw was kind to Charlo, imho, but coulda been worse. High quality fight."
Meanwhile, boxing journalist Dan Rafael described the ending as "a disgrace".
Fellow reporters Mike Coppinger and Ben Damon channelled similar feelings, dubbing the scorecards "criminal".
And Sergio Mora concluded: "Getting a draw in Texas against a Texan means you won convincingly, they just can't let you leave with a victory."
Draw. No unification. The 117-111 Charlo scorecard is criminal #CharloCastaño- Ben Damon (@ben_damon) July 18, 2021
114-113 Castano, 117-111 for Charlo (wow!!), and 114-114. It's a draw. That 117-111 scorecard is criminal. #CharloCastano- Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) July 18, 2021
But it seems it isn't just the fans who are divided in opinion on who should be crowned the division's first ever undisputed champion.
"If anything, I won this fight. I hurt him way more than he hurt me," Charlo said.
"Brian Castano's a tough warrior, he's going to give some people some problems, but my power is something serious at this weight division.
"My coach told me I needed a knockout in the ninth round. This comes with boxing - wins, losses and draws."
As for Castano, he thought he did enough to get the victory.
"I won the fight. There were some rounds he hit me hard, but I won the fight," he said.
"I did enough to win the fight.
"I hope there's a rematch. He's a great fighter, me too. I need the rematch."
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