Michael Zerafa is happy to have used the media to get “under the skin” of Tim Tszyu.
But when it comes to being cast as the “villain”, he has taken umbrage.
“Fox Sports, they’ve got to pick a villain and they’ve chosen me,” the 29-year-old told ITS ahead of his bout in Newcastle against Tszyu on July 7.
Appearing at the Fox Sports Offices in Sydney on Monday, Zerafa hit a nerve when he brought up the man who ended his father Kostya’s career: Micky Hatton.
“Remember what Ricky Hatton did (to Kostya)!” Zerafa said.
A furious Tszyu said: “Don’t talk about that fight man. Don’t talk about that.”
Zerafa responded: “I’m just saying. Remember what happened. You remember what happened in that fight. Micky Hatton’s rocking up. We’ll see. I told you there’s levels (between us).”
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Later, Tim spoke about the devastating affect the upset defeat had on his family.
“It’s a bad memory,” he said.
“It’s not a good day in our family history. I don’t like to talk about it. And it’s personal. So look, I’ll make sure that doesn’t ever happen in this family ever again.
He added: “I don’t think he meant it. Everyone has dark places in their life. That wasn’t a good place in our family’s life and that’s it.”
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‘DON’T TALK ABOUT THAT’: Zerafa’s ugly, ‘personal’ Kostya jab sparks Tim Tszyu fury
Zerafa says he did not mean the friendly reminder as an attack, but he was willing to ride it for its worth.
“I got under his skin definitely, I definitely got under his skin, and again it wasn’t a personal attack,” he told Jimmy Smith on ITS.
“But to see him get rattled by something so small surprised me to be honest.
“If it’s that easy to get under his skin, you know July 7th, it’s going to be a hard night for him.”
Moments earlier though, Zerafa was laying the boot into the media for picking up the incident played out at Fox Sports.
“Fox Sports, they’ve got to pick a villain and they’ve chosen me,” he said.
“Again, I said in the interview yesterday that it wasn’t a personal attack. Timmy even said it wasn’t personal, ‘I know Michael didn’t mean it’.
“There was nothing about him or his family it was just about stylistically between him and his dad, they’re very similar.
“The way to beat him was how Ricky Hatton fought him, which was walk forward.
“Obviously, Fox Sports and the media being media twisted it all and said obviously that I was going to obviously come to knock him out like his old man. That was never said.
“I just said it was Micky Hatton, referring to the fight obviously the great legend Kostya and Ricky Hatton’s fight.”
Tszyu is the heavy favourite to continue his historic rise as he continues to step outside the shadow of his champion father’s shadows.
Zerafa said Tszyu’s greatest asset was his “patience” and added that he’s appeared quicker than what he is because of the “stuck in the mud” nature of his opponents over the year.
Zerafa added that he had the “boxing IQ’ to beat Tszyu.
“We’ve watched him and the style Timmy has, and it’s a good style, but it is very breakable,” he said.
“He doesn’t like being on the back foot and he’s not as strong, that’s his weakest point.
“I’ve got a game plan set in place but we’re going to adjust and ease into the fight and play it round by round. Timmy mentioned that I can box, I can brawl, I’m experienced, so we’re going to have to tweak a few things because he’s a good opponent. I’ve got to stay focused.”