Australia’s ‘most hated boxer’ reveals the ace up his sleeve ahead of his world title fight: ‘We will bring home that belt’
- Michael Zerafa has an ace up his sleeve for his next fight
- He will train with four-division champion Nonito Donaire
- Zerafa fights for a world title next month
After 14 months out of the ring, polarizing pugilist Michael Zerafa wants to remind fight fans that he is far from washed out, he now has the chance to become world champion.
Not by choice, the Melbourne middleweight has been off the radar since a dull points victory over Italian Danilo Creati in Sydney in November 2022.
Zerafa was in line for a number of world title shots with Kazakh great Gennady Golovkin among them, but battling politics, contracts, other results, an ugly split with his trainer and then his American management contributed to his inactivity.
Zerafa (31-4-0) finally gets his chance in Las Vegas on Sunday, March 31 (AEST), against Cuban-American Erislandy Lara (29-3-3) for his WBA belt.
On the undercard of Tim Tszyu’s pay-per-view movie fight with Keith Thurman, Zerafa – who News Corp once described as ‘the most hated fighter in Australia’, is looking to take down his Australian arch-nemesis as a world champion.
Michael Zerafa is getting ready to fight for a world title next month
He revealed he has an ace up his sleeve when he faces Cuban-American Erislandy Lara
“I was always promised that the world title (fight) was going to be mine and that’s why I hung in there – it was going to happen in June, then July and then August and it was mentally challenging,” Zerafa said.
‘It was difficult because for 13 months I trained every day, two or three times a day, without any fight at the end of the tunnel.
‘It’s every fighter’s dream to fight for a world title, so I just believed I would eventually be in this position and now I’m fighting for the world title and what bigger than at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas.’
Zerafa trained at the Melbourne gym of his childhood friend Kris Terzievski, himself a rising heavyweight star who took down Paul Gallen.
But his preparation will increase on Wednesday with the arrival of Filipino four-division world champion Nonito Donaire, who will train him for the Lara fight.
The two will continue in Craigieburn on the outskirts of Melbourne until the end of the month when he and ‘The Filipino Flash’ will relocate to the fight capital of the world.
“I am very privileged to have Nonito Donaire, nine-time world champion and one of the best ever to come out of the Philippines, alongside Manny Pacquiao,” said Zerafa.
‘I linked up with him two years ago and we got on like a house on fire and he put his hand up to be in my corner and train me.
Zerafa will train with four-division champion Nonita Donaire for the fight
The polarizing fighter was once described as Australia’s most hated boxer
“He’s going to be a huge force in my corner … we’re going to leave no stone unturned and bring that belt home.”
Lara himself has not fought since May 2022 and is 40 years old, but Zerafa said he is a ‘big fan’.
‘We watched him when he was fighting Canelo Alvarez and other big names and that was before I was in the crowd to even fight him.
‘He’s a great fighter, I can’t take that away from him, he’s been up there with the best and he’s beaten some of the best, so it’s going to be a tough fight.
“He said he was going to knock me out, so I’ll see him in March – everyone has the same plan.”