Michael Zerafa has revealed what was said during his exchange of words with Tim Tszyu after the Sydney fighter’s first-round victory over Bowyn Morgan last night.
Zerafa confronted Tszyu as he left the ring, with the dispute caught on camera. After talking for about a minute, Tszyu turned his back on the Aussie middleweight before saying, “Mate, I’ve got a world title to win”, as he walked away.
Speaking to Wide World of Sports this morning, Zerafa revealed the true extent of his gripe with Tszyu.
“He had a four-fight plan that I was in. I just reminded him I’m the only one he hasn’t fought and he replaced me with a welterweight,” Zerafa said.
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“That’s what I was telling him I said, ‘Mate you’re beating all these guys in the first round because you’re fighting all these guys that are three divisions smaller.
“He’s fought three out of the four fighters he planned on fighting and he keeps replacing me with smaller fighters.
“I’m all about the best match-ups and that’s me and Tszyu. Everyone is pointing me out to be this villain but I’m just trying to get an even match-up. I want to be involved in the best fights, win, lose or draw.”
Tszyu has spoken of plans to step up to middleweight once he has won a world title at super welterweight. Zerafa, who has fought at super welterweight but mostly fights at middleweight, was supposed to be in the ring with Tszyu last night, he claims; but believes he was deliberately “low-balled” on the purse because the Tszyu camp didn’t really want to take the fight.
Zerafa’s managers Sam Labruna and Brendan Bourke received an offer from Team Tszyu, however the fight was declined because their slice “wasn’t stadium money”, Labruna said in September.
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“They low-balled me with the offer and he’s hiding behind his promoter’s pay cheque,” Zerafa said.
“It was pathetic. It was a disrespectful offer. I’m getting double the amount to fight [Anthony] Mundine. It wasn’t really worth it for us. Nobody fights for free.”
Zerafa, who is scheduled to fight Mundine on March 13 at Bendigo Stadium, believes Tszyu hasn’t earned the right to be Australia’s best fighter until he gets in the ring with him.
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The Bendigo fighter, who has 27 wins to his name from 31 fights, lost in a majority decision to Jeff Horn in his last outing, less than six months after knocking the Queenslander out. Zerafa has fought top-class fighters during his career and claims that’s the reason why Tszyu is ducking him.
“What has he done? He beat Jeff Horn. That’s all he’s done. I knocked out Jeff Horn also. There’s no hype on me,” Zerafa said.
“People think I’m a hard fight. Nobody wants to take the risk. I’ve gone 12 rounds with Kell Brook. I’ve fought the best and knocked out Horn and in the second fight the ref literally saved him.
“The Tszyu team have got a good streak going and fighting me would destroy that because they know I can beat him.”
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Tszyu now has plans of preparing for a shot at the WBO super welterweight title, which could take place in April or March next year. He said in his post-fight press conference that the Zerafa ship has sailed.
“This was a world title eliminator for me. So there’s only two names on the hit list right now. That’s [Brian] Castano and [Patrick] Teixeira,” he said.
“I want top five in the world. My manager has a plan for me. At the end of the day, he [Zerafa] just lost to Jeff Horn and he’s fighting Anthony Mundine. So he’s in his own little bubble.”
While a fight with Tszyu appears to be a huge long shot, Zerafa is adamant the two will get in the ring quicker than most think.
“Either he will go overseas and get beaten or I’ll end up winning something that he wants,” Zerafa said.
“The fight will happen next year or early 2022. I’m pretty certain. There’s been talks with our camps.”