Jeff Horn fully prepared for Michael Zerafa, eyes Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Manny Pacquiao
Former WBO welterweight titleholder Jeff Horn will face compatriot Michael Zerafa for local bragging rights in a scheduled 12-round middleweight contest at the Bendigo Stadium, Bendigo, Australia on Saturday.
Horn (19-1-1, 13 knockouts) knows that Zerafa could provide a tough evening’s work but it’s one that he must get past if he is to contend for more world titles in the future.
“I am definitely not taking Michael lightly,” Horn told The Ring. “He went the distance and lost a close decision against Kell Brook. I expect him to be a tough, come-forward opponent.
“Michael is younger, taller and heavier. He has a great jab and this is something I have to negate to get on top in this fight. He is confident – verging on cocky – and arrogant. He is however a professional, as I am. He understands the need to market his fights. There is the usual banter, and of course he wants to bring me down and maximize his opportunities. I will be there to stop him from doing that.”
Zerafa turned professional in 2011. He won his first 15 bouts in Australia before going to Russia where he lost to one-time prospect Arif Magomedov in October 2014. Two victories set him up for a fight with Peter Quillin, who stopped him in five rounds. The 27-year-old responded with eight straight wins before putting up a spirited effort against Brook last December.
After losing his title to Terence Crawford, Horn returned to Australia, stepped up in weight and halted former super middleweight titleholder Anthony Mundine in the opening round.
His long-time trainer, Glen Rushton, feels that his fighter has improved since changing division.
“Jeff is definitely hitting much harder at middleweight, and he is much happier now that he can eat normally,” said the coach. “The key point in Jeff moving up to middleweight is not to lose mobility, which has always been one of his strong points. I’m pushing his legs harder than previously.”
“The Hornet” has his eyes on the biggest names in his new division.
“I would love to win another world title,” said Horn. “I didn’t shirk putting my title on the line against Terence Crawford, and I wouldn’t hesitate to take a fight with (Gennadiy) Golovkin or Canelo (Alvarez). The fight game is about the fans and entertainment. I don’t believe in not taking difficult fights.”
Rushton confidently predicts his boxer can compete with anyone from 147 to 160 pounds.
“I still believe the best is yet to come with Jeff, provided he can maintain his focus now that he has two children,” added Rushton. “I believe he can beat both GGG and Canelo Alvarez. These would both be enormous fights.
“Another option is to drop Jeff back to junior middleweight, should the right fight emerge. And, of course, a rematch with Manny Pacquiao would be welcome at any time. Manny has proved he can still mix it with the best, and he was not old when he lost to Jeff. Jeff was just extremely motivated that day, stuck to the plan and executed it with steely determination. Jeff beat Manny fair and square and in doing so proved he can beat anyone in the world.”
Horn was impressed by former rival Manny Pacquiao’s recent showing and is open to going back to welterweight for a rematch.
“I thought Manny’s win was credible against a very tough opponent,” Horn said. “It was a close decision win, but what struck me was the humility and respect with which Thurman took the defeat. He showed himself to be a real man.
“As much as I have always followed and respected Manny, I have to say it was extremely disappointing to see him do nothing but fuel the firestorm of negativity after our fight. He knew in the ring that he had been fairly beaten but chose to ride the wave of garbage peddled by certain media after the fight.
“To hear Oscar De La Hoya recently express his view that I clearly and fairly beat Pacquiao is very satisfying. I understand Manny not taking the rematch with me. He knows where it would go in another fight with me. It will always be unfinished business in the incredible career of Manny Pacquiao.”