A year ago, he was Australia’s greatest sporting villain.
Now, Michael Zerafa is set to headline one of the biggest fights ever held Down Under.
In what shapes as one of the nation’s great redemption stories, Zerafa has exclusively revealed to Fox Sports Australia he and boxing megastar Gennady Golovkin have “verbally agreed” to fight for his middleweight world titles in Australia next March.
Apart from fighting for gold, the 30-year-old also revealed that should he dethrone the legend dubbed Triple G, he will then demand an Australian superfight with Tim Tszyu – the arch rival he sensationally walked out on last year.
“And that fight,” Zerafa says, “will be bigger than even Anthony Mundine versus Danny Green”.
Yet before his attempt at national sporting history, Australia’s boxing bad boy must first survive — somewhat surprisingly — a highly anticipated return to national TV screens later this month.
Set to be announced at a Sydney press conference today, Zerafa has signed on to be the co-main event on Paul Gallen’s boxing farewell against Queenslander Justin Hodges.
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Despite having already agreed to the Golovkin blockbuster, Zerafa will face undefeated Italian Danelo ‘Dash’ Creati on November 23.
Now based out of Sydney, Creati has won eight straight fights but will still open as a large betting underdog in what shapes as a high risk fight for ‘Pretty Boy’.
Quizzed on his decision to take the bout despite being the division’s No.1 contender, Zerafa explained: “I want to stay active.
“While Triple G and his team have verbally agreed to fight me, and to fight me in Australia, it’s now been seven months since I dismantled Issac Hardman.
“And since 2020, I’ve only fought seven rounds. I’ve knocked out everyone I fought.
“So this is about getting myself back in the ring, and back on the big stage”.
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Just over a year ago, Zerafa was widely, and almost universally, blasted for withdrawing from his Main Event headliner against Tszyu in Newcastle.
Asked about his decision to boycott the fight, citing fears Covid regulations would see he and his team trapped in NSW, Zerafa says now that he was “lied to” by a management group who he has since split with.
“Sadly, I had the wrong team in my corner,” Zerafa says. “They did a lot wrong by me.
“I was lied to.
“I can’t go into it here but things were said, promises were made — and it was all false.
“I only found all this out a few months ago, too.
“But had I been given the right information, I wouldn’t have done what I did.”
However the fighter also stresses that the drama, and ensuing fallout between he and Tszyu, have “only built a bigger fight between us”.
While Tszyu is set to face American Jermell Charlo for the unified super welterweight title in Las Vegas next January, Zerafa says he doesn’t believe his countryman can win it.
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“Although I do hope Tim shocks the world,” he said.
“Despite what has happened between us, I’m not salty. I want him to win.
“But it’s a big ask.
“Yet no matter what happens with him over there, a fight between us needs to happen.
“So if we both win, great – then we unify.
“But even if I win and he loses, I will give him a shot at my world title.”
Elsewhere, Zerafa said that despite having previously been disappointed about the attention Gallen got over ‘real’ boxers, he now has no problem fighting on the NSW Origin great’s farewell undercard.
“I’m not worried about anyone else,” he said. “I’m the main event and I’m going to soak it all up, embrace it.
“And I was never against Gal.
“I was just disappointed he was taking some of the attention away from the professional boxers, guys who had been all over the world fighting.
“But credit to him.
“He’s a gentleman, a family man, great athlete and has brought a lot of eyes to the sport. So hopefully he goes out with a bang, goes out healthy and gets the win.”