Jeff Horn to fight Michael Zerafa in domestic rumble Aug 31
By Anthony Cocks
Jeff ‘The Hornet’ Horn 19-1-1 (13) is looking forward to his first fight as a fully-fledged middleweight when he travels south to Bendigo in country Victoria to take on Michael ‘Pretty Boy’ Zerafa 26-3 (15) at Bendigo Stadium on August 31.
The 31-year-old former WBO welterweight champion might be thankful for the extra padding as he leaves the warmth of his home in Brisbane, Queensland in northern Australia – known as the ‘Sunshine State’ – where the average temperature is 22 degrees Celsius in August for the colder climes of Bendigo where the monthly average is eight degrees lower.
But it will be added strength and power the former schoolteacher carries at the higher weight that will be the real benefit.
“I fought [Anthony] Mundine at 71kg, which was technically middleweight, so this will just be another kilo and a half more,” Horn said to Fox Sports.
“I just felt really strong at that weight, so why not aim for that again and see how I go and step up against another bigger guy and hopefully I can feel just as strong and take the fight down.”
Horn revealed both strength and conditioning coach Dundee Kim and train Glenn Rushton have both be on the receiving end of his growing power.
“Ever since I’ve gone up [in weight] and hit the pads with Dundee or Glenn, I can feel the whack. It feels like the punching power has doubled,” he added.
Horn has seen just 96 seconds of ring action against Mundine in November last year since losing his welterweight title to clever American Terence Crawford 35-0 (26) in Las Vegas 13 months ago.
Zerafa has been far more active, fighting four times since June last year including a competitive 12-round decision loss to former world titleholder Kell Brook 38-2 (26) in Sheffield, England last December.
“He’s a strong opponent, normally comes forward and throws plenty of punches,” Horn said of Zerafa. “He took Kell Brook, a UK fighter, the distance. It was a very close fight. It was an awesome performance and I commend him for that, but hopefully I can do a little bit better than Kell Brook did.”
Zerafa, 27, is having none of it.
“They have made a mistake in looking past me, already talking about his next fight,” Zerafa told the Herald Sun. “He will fall, make no mistake, and I will win this fight for Melbourne and shock a lot of people.
“It’s my time and I’m 100 per cent I can stop him.
“Horn fought old men in Anthony Mundine and Manny Pacquiao, both of whom would have stopped him in their day.”
The Craigieburn carpenter is confident his ring IQ will be the difference against the hard-charging Horn, who has made a career out of using his physical strength to bully and breakdown his opponents.
“Quite simply my boxing ability is vastly superior to Jeff Horn. He is tough, yes, but skills pay the bills and he only knows one way, which is to walk forward,” Zerafa continued.
“I wasn’t impressed in the way he fought Terence Crawford. And I will be hitting him with so many lefts that he will be begging me for a right.
“He is a brave fighter, but a limited one. He has made a big mistake in taking this fight, but he doesn’t know that yet.”