Horn’s fear as Zerafa promises knockout blow
Michael Zerafa says he has the skills to KO Jeff Horn when they clash in Bendigo on August 31 - a vow which has the Australian brawler worried.
After months of negotiations the pair will come face-to-face at Bendigo Stadium at 11am on Friday ahead of what promises to be a thrilling battle which Horn hopes will propel him into a shot at the world middleweight title by Christmas.
Bendigo is the only city in the world named in honour of a prize-fighter - the great British bare-knuckle champ Bendigo Thompson.
Zerafa is a rugged opponent with slick boxing skills whose only loss in his last 10 fights was a points decision against Britain's former world champ Kell Brook in Sheffield, England.
In eight years as a pro boxer he has 26 wins from 29 fights and Horn knows he has the skills to threaten his ambition to again reach the heights of his victory over Manny Pacquiao before more than 51,000 people at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium two years ago.
"I want to be world champion again and Michael Zerafa is a big threat to that," said Horn who will fly to Victoria on Friday with coach Glenn Rushton.
"He's a quality fighter and a little bigger than me so I'm putting it all on the line against him. He had a great fight with Kell Brook, who for a long time was regarded as one of the best in the world pound for pound.
"I know Michael sees me as a big target and that he can go on to a world title by getting past me but boxing is a brutal sport and I'm hitting harder than ever."
The fight will be contested at the 72.3kg middleweight limit, two weight divisions up from the 66.7kg welterweight class in which Horn beat Pacquiao and lost to American Terence Crawford 11 months later.
"I feel stronger than ever at middleweight," Horn said, "I don't have to diet as hard or boil down as much to make the weight and Zerafa will see how strong I am on August 31."
Zerafa has described Horn as a "brave but limited fighter".
The 27-year-old carpenter from Craigieburn, in Melbourne's north, says his skill level is far superior to Horn's.
"Skills pay the bills and Horn only knows one way of fighting and that is to walk forward," Zerafa said.
"I will be hitting him with so many lefts that he will be begging for a right.
"It's my time and I know I can stop him."
Horn knocked back a $2 million payday to fight Japan's Olympic gold medallist Ryota Murata in Osaka next week because he wanted to be at the birth of his second daughter Charlotte on June 20.
He hopes a win over Zerafa will qualify him to face the winner of Murata's fight with American Rob Brant for the WBA middleweight title.
The Bendigo fight will be Horn's first fight since blitzing Anthony Mundine in 96 seconds at Suncorp last November.
He has 19 wins and a technical draw in 21 fights.
Zerafa's last fight was on April 12 when he stopped the Gold Coast's former world-ranked super-middleweight Les Sherrington in two rounds. Zerafa was 75.5kg for that bout.