Australian boxing star Tim Tszyu will fight Michael Zerafa in Newcastle on July 7, putting an end to months of back and forth outside the ring.
Tszyu’s last fight in March was also at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre, when he knocked Irish veteran Dennis Hogan to remain perfect at 18-0 with 14 knockouts.
The 29-year-old Zerafa has a 28-4 record, with his last fight a farcical knockout of 46-year-old Anthony Mundine in March.
“Everyone knows Mundine was too old and was at the end of his game,” Tszyu said.
But Zerafa said he had to take the Mundine fight because Tszyu would not accept a fight.
Tszyu denied claims that he had ducked the bout.
“I’ve never rejected a fight,” Tszyu said, later citing injuries as part of the reason the bout had not happened yet.
Earlier in his career, Tszyu’s camp initially expressed interest in a clash with Zerafa, but instead put together an impressive run of victories over Dwight Ritchie, Jack Brubaker, Jeff Horn, Bowyn Morgan and Hogan.
“He hasn’t fought anybody like me. He’s doing well. He’s disposed of all his opponents but I’m a different fighter,” Zerafa said.
“I’ve done the things he’s done but he hasn’t shown yet that he can do the things I can do.
“They know I can upset their little tea party. I’m a huge risk for him.”
Tszyu said he became more interested in fighting Horn after the former world champion beat Zerafa in their December 2019 rematch, which sparked a number of jibes back and forth.
“It’s just been a long build-up, there’s been a lot of things said that I take personally,” Tszyu said.
“[Now] we’re in the ring and punching each other in the face. That’s all that matters.”
Despite saying he would let his fighting do the talking, Zerafa had at least one more barb for his more decorated opponent.
“I didn’t have my dad to get me where I’m at,” he said, referencing the great Kostya Tszyu.
“If your name was Tim Smith nobody would care.”