Welcome to At The Fights – Main Event’s Ben Damon’s weekly look at the best in boxing from Australia and abroad.
TSZYU’S NOT BUYING IT
Officially Michael Zerafa refused to fly to Newcastle over concerns around Sydney’s Covid outbreak but Tim Tszyu isn’t buying it.
“I don’t think the story has any truth to it. It doesn’t make sense,” says Tszyu.
“Maybe it’s the prep(aration) he had – some issues there. He’s a fighter – he fought Kell Brook – so it’s hard to believe he’s just scared. The whole thing has just blown me away.”
Tszyu has considered Jeff Fenech’s theory that Zerafa was worried out of the contest during the “Micky Hatton” exchange on the ‘face off’ piece I hosted for Fox Sports.
“He was definitely rattled. My reaction was cold and he didn’t like that. He backed down straight away but surely that wasn’t enough to scare him away. I don’t think so anyway.”
Despite unprecedented moves to have Zerafa’s weigh-in shifted to Melbourne so he could fly into Newcastle on fight day, and offers of private jets, Zerafa and trainer/manager Sam Labruna, who doesn’t fly, held firm to their demands and the fight collapsed yesterday afternoon.
The team wanted a written guarantee from the Victorian Government that in the event mandatory quarantine came into force for Victorians returning from Newcastle they would be exempt.
Presently Victorians are free to travel to Newcastle but must get tested when returning home.
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‘NEVER WANTED THE FIGHT’: BOXING WORLD SLAMS ‘EMBARRASSING’ ZERAFA
FENECH – “TIM’S IN A REAL FIGHT NOW
The legendary Jeff Fenech is in no doubt Tim Tszyu will have a harder fight with Stevie Spark than he would have against Michael Zerafa.
Fenech gave Zerafa virtually no chance of upsetting Tszyu but he’s seen Spark up close and believes this is a dangerous fight for the undefeated Aussie.
“Tim’s in a real fight now! I was in the other corner for Spark’s last fight when he beat Jack Brubaker who I train and I have absolutely no doubt he is a tougher fight for Tim Tszyu than what Michael Zerafa would have been,” says Fenech.
“He is a very talented kid and he believes in himself, and these are the guys you need to worry about. I’m really excited now – I cannot wait for this fight!”
Fenech will join me in commentary on Wednesday night.
SPARK’S ROCKY STORY
When yesterday’s call came for Stevie Spark to step in against Tim Tszyu on a week’s notice the Queenslander was working his part-time job at a pub.
“Outside boxing I do a bit of work at the pub and training people at the gym and I was working at the pub when the phone rang about 11am. Brendon (Smith – Spark’s trainer/manager) said it looked like Zerafa was pulling out and asked how I felt about stepping in” says Spark.
“I headed straight over to the gym and we had a quick chat and said ‘let’s do it’”.
Spark got a taste of big time boxing with his show-stealing performance at Gallen v Browne and it convinced him he’s destined for success.
“Fighter’s fight! This is Cinderella Man. This is Rocky. This is my golden ticket,” says Spark.
“I’ve dreamed about fighting Tszyu and obviously this has come a little quicker than I expected but that’s a good thing. I’m fit and I’m coming to Newcastle to win.”
The 24 year old has accepted No Limit’s offer of a private jet and flies into Newcastle today.
Meantime former interim world title challenger Czar Amonsot will arrive by commercial plane from Melbourne in coming days for his undercard bout against Sam Ah See.
FILIPINO FREE TO FIGHT
Nobody is more relieved than world ranked super featherweight Joe Noynay that Stevie Spark has saved the show.
The Filipino has just completed two weeks in hotel quarantine in Sydney after flying in for his bout with undefeated Queenslander Liam Wilson, with both fighters now in Newcastle.
“If you have a big heart, you come. You come to the fight,” says Noynay.
“I’m away from my girlfriend, my family, my friends. It’s a big sacrifice. I’ve been alone for two weeks, training. I’m happy to be free.”
“I was focused. Training in the room alone. Only training. I have the fighting spirit. It was very hard but I have to do what I got to do, you know.”
Noynay is ranked #7 in the world with the WBO, #12 by the WBC and #15 with the IBF.
CHARLO v CASTANO ON FOX
There will be major Australian interest in the super welterweight unification bout between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano, and the bout will be live on Fox Sports later this month.
Charlo holds the IBF, WBC and the legitimate version of the WBA belt while Castano has the WBO strap.
Tim Tszyu is currently ranked #1 with the WBO, #3 by the IBF and #4 with the WBC.
Charlo v Castano will be live on Fox Sports 507 on Sunday 18 July while Fox Sports will also show all three weeks of Matchroom’s ‘Fight Camp’ series, live from the UK in August.