Michael Zerafa
Michael Zerafa

Fenech says Zerafa can upset Horn

AUSTRALIA'S most successful fighter Jeff Fenech says Michael Zerafa has a ``huge chance to cause a huge upset'' in his battle with Jeff Horn in Bendigo on August 31.

Middleweight Zerafa was dynamic yesterday in a Sydney sparring session with 2016 Olympian Daniel Lewis, and while Fenech admits he is a huge fan of Horn's fairytale rise to victory over all-time great Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium two years ago, the three-time world champ says the Brisbane fighter could be hitting a dead end on his Victorian road trip next month.

``Zerafa has always been a good fighter,'' Fenech said. ``But he looked brilliant against Daniel Lewis who was recently sparring a world champ Daniel Jacobs in America.

``I was blown away. Zerafa is a lot bigger than Horn and he looks to have gone up a gear or two with his boxing. I think Horn is going to get a huge shock at this guy's speed and talent.

``I've been a huge fan of Horn's for a long time. He is a gentleman outside the ring and a tremendous, hard-working fighter. But watching Zerafa sparring today I just had to say `Wow - good luck Jeff because this guy is dynamite at the moment'.

 

Victorian boxer Michael 'Pretty Boy' Zerafa (left) pictured in Sydney sparring against Daniel Lewis. Zerafa will fight against Jeff Horn in Bendigo on August 31. Picture: Toby Zerna
Victorian boxer Michael 'Pretty Boy' Zerafa (left) pictured in Sydney sparring against Daniel Lewis. Zerafa will fight against Jeff Horn in Bendigo on August 31. Picture: Toby Zerna

``If Zerafa takes that form into the ring in Bendigo I think he is a huge chance to cause a huge upset.''

Horn, 31, knows he needs to score a spectacular victory over Zerafa to earn a shot at new world middleweight (72.3kg) champ Ryota Murata, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist who annihilated American Rob Brant in two rounds on Friday night in Osaka to regain the championship he lost last October.

Horn's promoter Dean Lonergan was ringside to secure a fight with Horn against the winner.

``Had Brant retained the title Jeff was set to fight him at the end of the year provided he won in Bendigo,'' Lonergan said.

Former World Boxing Champion Jeff Horn is seen during the fight launch between himself and Victorian Michael Zerafa in Bendigo. The middleweight fight will be held at the Bendigo Stadium on August 31. (AAP Image/Stefan Postles)
Former World Boxing Champion Jeff Horn is seen during the fight launch between himself and Victorian Michael Zerafa in Bendigo. The middleweight fight will be held at the Bendigo Stadium on August 31. (AAP Image/Stefan Postles)

``We are now trying to secure a Horn fight against Murata, and Jeff knows it will be a tough world title to win. Murata absolutely destroyed Brant. Murata is looking at a fight with the great Mexican Canelo Alvarez but I am negotiating with his promoters Bob Arum and Akihiko Honda for a title defence against Jeff first.

``More than ever Jeff has to be impressive in Bendigo to make it happen.''

Horn is the No. 3 contender for Murata's title and has a lot of promotional pull given the win over Pacquiao for the world welterweight (66.7kg) title before more than 51,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium in 2017.

Former champion Jeff Fenech (left) gives some advice to Michael Zerafa after the sparring session yesterday. Picture: Toby Zerna
Former champion Jeff Fenech (left) gives some advice to Michael Zerafa after the sparring session yesterday. Picture: Toby Zerna

Horn has a record of 19 wins and a technical draw (cut eye) in 21 fights. Zerafa has 26 wins in 29 fights and a low opinion of Horn's talent.

He says there won't be a Horn-Murata fight.

``Horn fought an old man in Manny Pacquiao and then knocked out 44-year-old Anthony Mundine,'' Zerafa said.

``I'm a lot younger and fresher than those guys and I know I have more talent than Horn. I'm hungrier too. And bigger. Beating Horn means a world title shot for me and that's something I've been training for over the last 15 years.''