MICHAEL Zerafa isn’t content with success on a national scale.
The talented middleweight, who currently holds an IBF affiliated regional title, will continue to build towards an imminent opportunity abroad when he takes on the well-travelled Istvan Zeller on Saturday night in Melbourne.
Zerafa, 24, has suffered just two defeats in his five year career, both in credible displays against world level opposition in the form of regarded Russian prospect Arif Magomedov and former WBO titleholder Peter Quillin.
However, it is Zerafa’s most recent work alongside Sam Soliman that gives him high hopes for the future.
“I’ve been training flat out,” said Zerafa in an interview with Aus-Boxing.
“My stablemate Sam Soliman just fought overseas, so my camp has been away. I went off to Billy Hussein’s gym and have been clocking up some rounds with some quality boys. I’ve really been able to learn some new stuff.”
The talented Craigieburn-based prospect believes he has improved drastically under the guidance of head-trainer Christian Ennor, who linked up with the Melburnian for his most recent win over Yosuke Kirima in April.
In Istvan Zeller, they will face a fighter who may not rival Zerafa’s ability – but has fought an abundance of talented prospects – including unbeaten duo Zac Dunn and Bilal Akkawy, pushing the latter ten rounds in February.
Despite knowing little about his opponent, Zerafa was quick to praise his Hungarian counterpart.
“I’ve seen him fight and I think he’s tough,” admitted Zerafa. “He has more experience than I do,”
“He has 43 fights under his belt – I know he is going to be awkward – he’s from a heavier division than me too. I’m a middleweight and he is a super middleweight. He’s definitely going to be bigger than me,”
“But my skill, power and speed will get me over the line.”
Although Zerafa (19-2, 10 KOs) isn’t looking past Zeller, he acknowledges that bigger fights are on the horizon, including opportunities aboard. And while he wouldn’t release details, he may it clear where he was going.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but we are planning bigger things,” he continued. “This fight against Zeller is really to keep busy. In November I should be heading overseas with a big fight locked in, hopefully,”
“I’m just trying to keep busy and get some rounds under my belt,”
“Because in November, I’m hopefully in the US fighting someone bigger and better.”
Zerafa has fought internationally twice, and both of those appearances ended in defeats. While nobody likes losing, Zerafa sees those blemishes as learning experiences where he was able to prove that he will indeed fight anyone.
“I’ll fight anyone. I believe in myself and believe in my ability,” he explained. I learnt a lot from that fight with Quillin. Just my confidence, ring movement, training. I just know where I need to be next time around,”
“I went out there and tried to shock the world.”
“We probably shouldn’t have taken that fight on three weeks notice, but we did. I went out there and proved I can mix it with the best fighters in my division. It was more just a confidence boost for me. The experience was awesome.”
Zerafa’s non-title fight will be the co-main attraction at the Melbourne Park Function Centre, on a card boasting a host of talent, including Shannon O’Connell, Qamil Balla and Will Tomlinson, who headlines the event.
“Lynden is great to work with, he is very professional,” said Zerafa of his working relationship with Hosking Promotions. “It’s a massive card. Will Tomlinson is headlining and I’m proud to be the semi-main event.”
“I would have liked to defend my regional title, but this leads to bigger and better things. I really have to thank Lynden, it’s a great opportunity to shine on his card. I’m hoping I can stop Zeller early and put on a show.”
As for any other potential opponents in the middleweight division; Zerafa’s message is simple.
“I’m young and I’m growing as a fighter. I’m willing to fight anybody and I want to be the best.”