Michael Zerafa says he’s no longer the brash fighter who thought he was “invincible” but rather a “mature” boxer ready to make the most of the biggest opportunity of his career.
Zerafa, who made headlines last year for pulling out of a fight with Tim Tszyu, will face Issac Hardman on April 20 in Melbourne in an IBF middleweight world title eliminator.
Gennadiy Golovkin holds the IBF middleweight belt, but he’s reportedly set to vacate the title to fight undisputed world super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
Should Golovkin go the expected route, the winner of the Zerafa-Hardman fight would face top-ranked Esquiva Falcao for the IBF world middleweight title.
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“This is the opportunity we want,” said Zerafa, 29, who has won 29 of his 33 fights, 18 by knockout.
“That’s why we put our bodies on the line for opportunities like this. They don’t come every day, so for me. I’m going to grab it with both hands.
“Everyone sees me as old and over the hill. That’s wrong. I’m mature now. The penny has dropped for me. I’m not a boy anymore, I’m a man.
Zerafa said Hardman, the Australian middleweight champion who has won all of his 12 professional fights, has done “a lot of bad things” in the ring.
“He makes a lot of mistakes and he relies on his punching power – that’s all he really has,” Zerafa said.
“It got him this far, but he fights guys that aren’t A-plus fighters, so I feel like he’s going to struggle in there against a guy of my level.
“When I was young I was inexperienced, and I thought the same thing Issac now thought I could fight anyone and was invincible.
“I’m at the most dangerous part of my career now.”
Zerafa also remains confident he can beat undefeated Tszyu, saying the public ‘doesn’t understand’ why he pulled out of the duo’s scheduled fight on July 7 last year, just a week before. the fight.
“I still cop it here and there, but that’s what it is,” Zerafa said.
“We are in a pandemic. Unfortunately, not everyone understands what is happening in the world, what was promised and not what was delivered.
“It’s sport, and I’m just going to copy it on the chin and move on.
“The fight is (always) there. You have two of the best. I want it (and) he wants it.
“He said he wanted to punch in the parking lot, so I’m sure he’ll fight me in a ring.”