IF their first fight was an instant classic, the rematch between Jeff Horn and Michael Zerafa holds a special place in the folklore of Australian boxing.
With the stakes at an all-time high, both Horn (20-2-1, 13 KOs) and Zerafa (27-4, 16 KOs) added another chapter to their memorable rivalry which kicked off in August.
As leading broadcaster and play-by-play commentator Ben Damon admits, the theatre of the penultimate round was unlike anything previously seen on these shores.
“For the sheer drama of round nine, I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it. Not in this country,” Damon told Hurt Business Radio.
Controversy continues to circle around the ninth around, where doctor Ben Manion was called in by referee John Cauchi to inspect a nasty gash on Horn’s left eye.
Given what followed in the now infamous ninth round, the exasperation from Zerafa’s team is understandable, according to Damon.
Moreover, the broadcaster was quick to praise the former Commonwealth titleholder, who acted with class in his post-fight interview.
“The Zerafa camp are unhappy that it was stopped at that time — which I completely understand — they would be frustrated,” he added.
“There’s been a lot of investigation. Ben Keilty from the IBF is one of those who’s come out and said that was okay. It was stated in the rules meeting that the referee can intervene and have a look at the cut at any time.
“It’s frustrating for them, no doubt, but it’s within the laws, so it is what it is. What it did was add to this fairytale. The stock of both of these men went up [and] I thought Michael Zerafa handled himself brilliantly in the ring afterwards.
“To get up from that right hand. What a tough dude Zerafa is. How did he get up from that? I’ve lost it a few times in commentary, but never quite to the extent of the back end of round nine.
“In the minute between rounds, between nine and ten, I’m just yelling stuff, I’ve watched it a few times. It’s amazing the emotion you get in a fight like that.”
Unified regional titleholder and world rated super middleweight, Jayde Mitchell, a long-time sparring partner of Zerafa, recalls the fight and its subsequent drama acutely.
Mitchell went as far as to call the regional title fight the best domestic clash he’s ever seen.
“The entire place was on their feet. Unless you were there, words can’t describe the energy that was in the room in that round,” he said.
“Even in round ten, both boys just went at it again. It was just unbelievable, take your hat off to both men. That’s the best fight I’ve just about ever seen. The best fight I’ve ever been to live, that’s for sure.
“That’s the two best in the country going at it. That was huge, everything, the drama in the lead up. It all culminated in the best Australian fight we’ve ever seen, in recent memory, absolutely.”
Photo: Betelgeuse Films