A crestfallen Michael Zerafa couldn’t believe what had hit him.

He had spent nearly two rounds trying to make sure that Erislandy Lara didn't have an opportunity. But the next thing Zerafa knew, he was on the seat of his trunks. And even once back on his feet, Zerafa's legs were unsteady beneath him, and referee Allen Huggins waved his arms to signal the fight was over.

Lara, the WBA middleweight titleholder, had stalked and waited for an opening. And as Zerafa moved toward him, the Cuban landed a short right hook and followed it with a crunching left hand that did all the damage and will grace many a highlight reel between now and the end of 2024.

It came almost out of nowhere.

There had been catcalls during a quiet opener. Zerafa, a significant underdog, had no intention of gambling early when the 40-year-old veteran was going to be at his sharpest.

The activity was, shall we say, sparse at best. Lara’s jab controlled the territory, but the catcalls and whistles were replaced by boos in the second.

Zerafa, fighting out of Melbourne, Australia, and now 31-5 (19 KOs), tried to bury his right hand into the Cuban’s midriff, trying to get a foothold in the fight, and then it was all over. He crashed backwards, his head snapping off the bottom ring rope.  

The time of the stoppage was 2:59 of round two.

Lara is now 30-3-3 (18 KOs).