Horn-Zerafa clash lands in Bendigo

THE value of a fight is often measured by public interest.

If this is truly the case, the looming domestic collision between Jeff Horn and Michael Zerafa looks set to capture the attention of the wider sporting public.

After making a career out of his fairytale victory over Manny Pacquiao just two years ago, Jeff Horn is set to return the favour, offering Michael Zerafa a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to steal his throne.

The latest chapter in Horn’s story will take place in regional Victoria, where he’ll meet the former Commonwealth titleholder at Bendigo Stadium on August 31st.

With the support of the Victorian Government and City of Greater Bendigo, big time boxing will have a new home.

“The support has been overwhelming and that’s why the fight is happening here,” said Horn.

“I want a challenge every time and Michael is definitely the biggest challenge. He’s Australian but he’s world class and he’s been in with world champions before.

“There’s going to be fireworks for sure on that night. He comes to fight every time and so do I, you’re going to see that, and the crowd will get into it. We’re going to be smashing each other.

“Mundine was the A-side in Australia for such a long time and I only managed to get that when I beat Manny Pacquiao, which grew my name massively. To come to Victoria and be the A-side here is a massive feeling.”

Citing his long-term goal to exit the sport in just four years, Horn (19-1-1, 13 KOs) is setting the stage for a second world title challenge in a new division.

“I need to have these big fights, I’m not going to be in this for a long time,” he added.

“I’ve said many times, I’m not going to fight past 35 years old. I’ve only got four years left and I want another world title at middleweight, so I’ve got to fight the best fighters out there.

“The best fighter here in Australia that’s world class is Zerafa.”

Despite the apparent challenges that Zerafa (26-3, 15 KOs) will offer, including the advantage in size and age, Horn wouldn’t rule out an eventual meeting with another rising star in Tim Tszyu.

“Tim Tszyu is definitely on the radar, not just yet though,” he said.

“He’s still got a lot of stripes to earn, he hasn’t done what Michael Zerafa has done.

“He hasn’t fought the Kell Brook’s or Peter Quillin’s of the world. Tim definitely has a few more fights to prove himself, but he’s a name on the list.”

On the biggest platform of his professional career, the Craigieburn-based Zerafa is fully aware of the platform he’s been afforded.

“I’ve had to do a lot of my work overseas, to have a fight like this in my backyard is an absolute honour,” he said.

“I know that Horn is going to come to fight, but he only knows one way. He tries to bully opponents, he fought an old Pacquiao and an out-of-date Mundine.

“Everything he brings, I have an answer for. I’ve been in with the best and I’ll prove I’m the best after I beat Horn.

“We’re leaving no stone left unturned, this is my time. Boxing is all about timing and opportunity.”

The well-travelled middleweight, who has enjoyed success in two divisions, sees several paths to a career-best victory.

“From what I’ve seen, from my fights, I can change it up,” concluded Zerafa.

“I’ve got levels and I don’t think he does. He’s tough and he’s a bully against smaller guys. The biggest mistake he made was signing that contract. I’ve seen it, dreamt it and I’ll win this fight.

“I’m going to stop Jeff Horn. His name is like a world title shot to me.”

Photo: Betelgeuse Films