By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
Michael Zerafa Upsets Jeff Horn in Australia – Editorial
My good friend, noted boxing promoter and trainer Mike Melendez, has often said whenever two men step into the ring, anything can happen, and never underestimate your opponent. On Saturday night, August 31, 2019, as the summer ended, an improbable upset took place in the Australian outback, perhaps the biggest upset in Australian boxing history.
Middleweight veteran Michael ‘Pretty Boy’ Zerafa reinvented himself, and was willing to die when he put it all of the line against Jeff Horn. Zerafa, 27-3 with 17 knockouts, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, had lost decisions to Kell Brook and Arif Magomedov, and had got knocked out in the fifth round by Peter Quillin. Zerafa seems an unlikely Rocky Balboa story. Roly-poly and physically unimpressive Andy Ruiz knocked out an uninspired Anthony Joshua to win a share of the world heavyweight title. In 1984, super lightweight DuJuan Johnso, Detroit’s Mr. Excitement, knocked out Brian Janssen at Festival Hall in Melbourne in an upset in his final fight.
The lesser-known WBA Oceania and WBO Oriental regional middleweight titles were at stake. Horn, with a shorter 5’9” height to Zerafa’s 5’11”, stood at a disadvantage. In addition, Zerafa had a 71 ½ inch reach to Horn’s 68-inch reach. Microscopic in one sense, but critical in the boxing statistical comparison. The slightest of edges among superior fighters can prove the difference. Horn, 19-2-1 with 13 knockouts, Acacia Ridge, Queensland, Australia, could not overcome Zerafa’s speed, accuracy, and power advantages in a lengthy fight.
Horn, knocked down in the second round, made his biggest mistake before the fight began. Horn, who beat Manny Pacquiao, is really a welterweight. His only middleweight appearance was a first-round knockout over a washed up Anthony Mundine. Horn is not a middleweight, and has no business masquerading at 160 pounds. The theater of the unexpected forced horn to endure numerous right-hand power hots from Zerafa, who enjoyed his height and reach advantage and put them to good use. Eventually, Horn hit the canvas in the ninth round, and arose to face his final brutal beating on the ropes. At this juncture, it is hard to categorize where Michael Zerafa now fits into the middleweight top of the pack. Zerafa will be headed to a world title challenge against World Boxing Association Middleweight champion Ryota Murata in Japan later this year, a world title challenge requiring Zerafa to knock out Murata in Japan to win. He could do it. Maybe. In the meanwhile, Jeff Horn needs to return to the 147 pounds welterweight division. Ditto.
Michael Zerafa Upsets Jeff Horn in Australia
BENDIGO, Australia (September 1, 2019) — Jeff Horn’s dream of another title fight appears to be all but over after the former world welterweight champion suffered a shock loss to Michael Zerafa at Bendigo Stadium on Saturday night.
In his first fight since flooring Aussie icon Anthony Mundine in Brisbane last December, Horn looked slow, sluggish and right off the pace of the younger Zerafa, who entered the fight as a 5-1 outsider with most bookmakers.
The Queenslander was knocked down early in the second round, suffering a nasty cut over his left eye, and although he came out more aggressive in the third, he never looked on top.
A flurry of shots to Horn’s face late in the ninth round had trainer Glenn Rushton throwing in the towel to hand Zerafa the win. The Melburnian now boasts a professional record of 27-3 and remains undefeated on Australian soil.
“I’m a bit shattered. It’s not fun losing, that’s for sure,” Horn said. “I felt really sluggish. I felt heavy. I just felt like crap going into it, but well done to Michael for landing those beautiful shots. You could see I wasn’t myself and I had no answers for him tonight.
“I wasn’t that well earlier in the week, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse because I felt fine tonight. Full credit to Michael Zerafa.”
From the first bell Zerafa looked composed and on his A-game, while the combination of speed, agility and aggression upset Horn. He connected with a number of brutal shots that rocked Horn and as the fight wore on he grew in confidence.
“It’s not a shock to me. I called this weeks ago,” Zerafa said. “I went out there and proved it. I knew he was out of his [depth] fighting a guy with my experience, my style and my power. I knew it wasn’t going to last.
“We had a game plan coming into this fight. I knew he was a little bit shorter and his reach was a little bit shorter so I stayed on the outside and picked my shots. We stuck to it and it worked.”
A big money fight against Japanese middleweight superstar Ryota Murata in Tokyo was on the cards for Horn had he won, instead it’s Zerafa who may end up with the bout.
For Horn, a second loss in 18 months does not bode well for his chances of landing another title fight and there has been some suggestions that the 31-year-old may retire.
“I don’t want to be doing this forever, getting battered and bruised,” Horn said. “I’ve got two beautiful girls and Jo.”