JEFF Horn has exercised his contractual rematch clause, just two months removed from his shocking defeat to Michael Zerafa.
Speaking to a media gathering in Brisbane on Thursday morning, the former welterweight titleholder announced his decision, which sees Zerafa miss out on a proposed world title opportunity against Ryoto Murata on December 23rd in Japan.
“I’m hungry for the win on this one,” Horn told an enthusiast swarm of media members.
“I hate losing and I really feel like I can do better than I did last time, and I’m willing to prove it.
“It’s not easy to decide if you want to go back, especially against a guy that’s just stopped you in the last fight. I feel like I’ve got a lot more to offer, I feel like I could do a lot better the second time.”
The 31-year-old admitted that his family were eager to see him call time on his accomplished professional career, but the chance for immediate redemption proved too tempting to turn down.
With the taste of defeat still lingering, a motivated Horn (19-2-1, 13 KOs) looks to remove all doubt about his interrupted preparation for their first meeting in the rematch.
“The family were more on the way of not taking the rematch,” he explained.
“His (Zerafa’s) team had a lot to say, and they’re pretty harsh with their words in saying that I’m not a good human being and stuff like that, look it was in the contract, they knew that this was going to happen. He’s always going to get big opportunities if he beats me in the rematch.
“I needed to have this fight, and I think this is the fight that motivates me the most to get back into it.
“All he’s got to do is beat me twice, the real me, the second time. It does make it easier to get in the gym when they’re calling me all these names, saying I’m Un-Australian. I’m just doing what’s in my heart, I’m doing this for me.”
After an extended review within Horn’s team, his long-time promoter, Dean Lonergan, revealed the option to exercise their contracted right was a relatively easy decision.
“I sent an email to the Zerafa camp to enact a rematch clause that we have if Jeff had lost that fight,” said Lonergan.
“Basically, we had three months to make a decision as to whether we enacted that clause, and we’ve decided to do so. We now have three months to put the fight on, it’s going to happen some time before January 1 next year.
“We haven’t an exact date yet and certainly haven’t determined an exact venue yet, so there’s a lot to be worked through. There’s a lot of discussion that went on within Team Horn, between Jeff, Glenn and myself, and also Jeff Horn Sr and our matchmaker Stu Duncan as to what was the right thing to do.
“Ultimately, that was Jeff’s question to answer, and this is the answer that he came up with. It’s pretty much that we roll over, we have a set amount of money that we’re going to be paying to Zerafa.
“The weight is set, but obviously everything is up for discussion if both parties choose to change that. We’ve discussed some of the things that went wrong in the last fight, and last camp, and we’re looking to address those.”
The decision to run an instant repeat wasn’t without controversy, given the lucrative world title bid that has been removed from Zerafa’s fingertips.
The team of the former Commonwealth titleholder, led by head trainer Sam Labruna, voiced their displeasure at facing Horn for a second time, citing their interest in a life-changing world title challenge against the aforementioned Murata.
“We get offered the Jeff Horn fight and we took the fight for very low money,” said Labruna.
“We took it as an opportunity not a business decision, we get the job done and knock his ass out. We then get offered a huge amount of money to fight Ryota Murata for the WBA world title in Japan, which is every fighters dream.
“We met with Team Horn and plead with them to let Michael take this money and opportunity, so he can get a deposit for a home, as we all know how rare and hard it is to make a dollar in Australian boxing. Jeff Horn comes back and denies Michael the opportunity and enforces a rematch, how very Un-Australian is that?”
Having missed out on the chance to complete a picture perfect end to their calendar year, Labruna warned a replica of Zerafa’s one-sided win in August in the immediate rematch.
“Jeff has made millions out of boxing, and when it came down to doing the right thing he failed, not as a boxer but as a good human being,” he concluded.
“Michael has accepted the challenge and he will fight for very little money. But the one thing Jeff Horn will realise is that money will never erase that beating Michael gave him.
“We warned them all the first time, and the outcome will be worse this time around.”
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