Michael Zerafa talks Arif Magomedov, training camp for Russian tilt

UNDEFEATED middleweight Michael Zerafa will attempt to make the step up from talented prospect to world rated middleweight when he challenges WBO #15 Arif Magomedov this weekend.

Zerafa, 22, has made the long trip to Luzhniki in Moscow, Russia in the hope of causing a major upset against Magomedov, also 22, in a fight with that comes with potential title implications.

The twelve-round title fight will be for the vacant WBO Youth and WBO Asia Pacific baubles, which has proven to be enough of an incentive to tempt Zerafa (15-0, 7 KOs) out of Australia for the very first time.

Magomedov (12-0, 8 KOs) will go into the fight as a heavy favourite, boasting credible wins over Colombian Alex Theran as well as a shutout decision over durable Briton Patrick Mendy.

Despite going into the fight as a firm underdog, the confident Craigieburn resident understands that he has been carefully selected by Magomedov’s management, but believes he is more than up to the task.

“I have been hand picked to fight in his backyard and it is definitely an advantage to him,” said Zerafa in an exclusive interview with Aus-Boxing. “He is also world rated, so I have a lot going against me. I can see how it would come across as him being the favourite in the fight.”

“I believe they’re out to look after themselves only, they wouldn’t care to much about us Aussies – but win or lose – he is going to know that I’m on his level.”

At this point, the fight between Zerafa and Magomedov is set to serve as one of the final offerings of the evening, listed before the European cruiserweight title between Rakhim Chakhkiev and Giacobbe Fragomeni as well as the main event between former WBA heavyweight titlist Alexander Povetkin and Carlos Takam.

Zerafa and his team have been given under a week to acclimatize to the freezing conditions in Russia, which by comparison to Melbourne’s temperamental weather, appears to be an uphill task.

The undefeated middleweight has fought once on the road before, travelling interstate to outpoint Luke Sharp in February in an experience that Zerafa hopes will work to his advantage.

“Even though it’s very cold over there in Russia, I actually believe it will suit me,” Zerafa continued. “I’m looking forward to it and I have trained accordingly, so it should be good.”

“Look, fighting interstate would definitely help me because it helps you get the feeling of travelling and adjusting to a different timezone, although fighting overseas will be a much harder task,”

“Magomedov is a very complete fighter. He has all the tools and it isn’t going to be a easy fight for me,” Zerafa explained. “He has proven that he can mix it with the best – but as long as I give it my all – I’m not worried about the outcome.”

To his credit, Zerafa has seeked the toughest fights available and in Magomedov, Zerafa has accepted an assignment that few others would and should be praised for his decision to fight abroad.

If successful, Zerafa will return home to Melbourne with a handful of regional title belts, a world rating but more importantly, respect.

“I want to fight the best and this is where it all begins.”

Photo: Louie Abigail/Photography by Rockfingrz

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