JEFF Horn has middleweight supremacy on his mind.
The 31-year-old from Brisbane has accomplished a lot in his professional boxing career but he’s far from finished.
The former WBO welterweight champion of the world has his sights set on the big names of the middleweight division and another world title but before he can achieve such a feat he has to first do away with the domestic challenge that is Michael Zerafa (26-3, 15 KOs).
For Horn (19-1-1, 13 KOs), Zerafa represents a measuring stick for his lofty middleweight aspirations.
“It was Glenn’s (Rushton) intention to have me fight at middleweight,” Horn told Aus-Boxing.
“And we want to jump up to the world class guys at that weight pretty quickly, especially if I find I can handle guys like Michael.
“He’s been in with the best and he’s done well against them so we thought he was a good measuring stick.
“If we can beat Zerafa and beat him well then we’re ready for those big fights”
Zerafa’s profile amongst Australian sports fans may well be a few levels below that of Horn but that hasn’t stopped him from making big predictions of victory over Horn in the lead up to the fight.
Despite these bold claims, the pre-fight bravado has done little to elicit any out of character response from the almost unflappable Horn but it most certainly has added some extra motivation for the former world champion.
“He doesn’t think anything of me,” scoffed Horn.
“He doesn’t think much of my boxing skills, thinks I’m the worst champion he will ever face but hopefully I change his mind and show him what power and skill I’ve got.
“I think he’s really trying to diminish what I’ve done.
“I’ve fought Manny Pacquiao, one of the greatest fighters in boxing history and still a world champion to this day.
“I’ve fought Mundine who’s done incredible things for Australian boxing but he talks down those wins like they were pretty much nothing and that he could have easily done it himself.
“Those comments can be frustrating and the arrogance that comes from him too but I just can’t wait to get in there and prove him wrong with my fists instead of talking.”
Zerafa’s discourse may give Horn added motivation but he’s also well aware of his ability and of the experience he has on the world stage.
The Brisbane native still keeps a keen eye on former foe Manny Pacquiao and what he sees from the veteran gives him added confidence that he does indeed belong with the elite names of the sport.
“I’m watching Pacquiao’s fights eagerly and wanting to see how he goes and I’ve been very impressed with how he’s fighting and how he’s beating these guys,” Horn said.
“I fought him only a couple of fights ago and I beat him so it gives me a tremendous amount of confidence when I see that still happening.”
Pacquiao’s accomplishments undoubtedly dwarf anything that Zerafa has achieved but the Victorian has his own experience within world class circles having shared the ring with names such as Kell Brook and Peter Quillin.
It’s this world class experience that’s landed Zerafa a fight with Horn but the former welterweight is quick to point out the fact that Zerafa lost both times he’s stepped up.
“He’s been in with Kell Brook and Peter Quillin, but he lost both those fights,” said Horn.
“He’s certainly had the experience and the fights under his belt so now he has to put his money where his mouth is and show what he can do.”
Words: Dan Attias/Follow Dan on Twitter
Photo: Getty Images