Junior middleweight Michael Zerafa sat down to discuss a variety of topics, including how he's coping with life in lockdown in Melbourne, the impact it’s had on his training and his thoughts on Jermell Charlo’s view on Tim Tszyu’s title chances.
Zerafa will face Tszyu in a grudge match on July 7th in Newcastle.
How are you going with lockdown in Victoria?
It’s starting to feel normal down in Melbourne. We are in another lockdown and the cases are growing but our mentality is still that on July 7th, we’re still staying focused, still grinding away in the gym. Obviously, we are allowed to train as we have permits and what not.
It’s a little bit of pressure, it’s not the perfect camp that we wanted with some little hiccups here and there but we’re just staying focused, no time has been missed in our training camp and we’re just staying to the grind and staying on course. We’re focusing on five weeks now come Wednesday.
Was there a thought that you would have to change up what you are doing?
It hasn’t really affected what is going on in training but it is getting only worse.
It’s out of my hands unfortunately. We’re just working towards July 7th and come that day there’s going to be no excuses.
I mean, it’s not the best camp, not the most perfect camp in terms of what is going on in Melbourne but physically and mentally, it’s been great.
Has it interrupted your ability to find training and sparring partners?
Yeah, just obviously sparring. We had a few guys that were going to come from interstate but obviously we’re going to have to hold off on that.
We’ve got some good local Melbourne boys that are giving me great rounds. You’ve got Eman Carlos, Benjamin Bomber, we’ve got some tough boys here.
And once we get the clearance, obviously we want to get some more guys down here and more rounds in the bank.
We just have to implement and use what we have and just keep moving forward to July 7th.
How’s the body feeling since the scare you had earlier in camp?
Look you know, they made it out like I was on my death bed. Look, I was just in no position to be flying to Sydney for Press Conferences and stuff.
I was really green, I had results come back and had inflammation and infection in the kidneys and in the bowel, so I obviously had to recover, rest and just get back to the grind.
I missed four-five days, just listening to the body and took it nice and slow. Now we’re back to 100% and then the virus kicked in, but again, just staying focused.
It’s all about mentality. We know how to box. It’s about getting the mind right and that’s what it’s all about. It’s not the most perfect camp I’ve had because there’s been a lot of hiccups, but again there’s no excuses.
Victorians have had to deal with this more than other states. How has that helped when things like this come up that aren’t necessarily to plan?
It makes me more hungry, more focused. It’s just another hurdle I’ve got to jump, and it makes the victory sweeter. I just keep reminding myself that.
Every time I’m in camp, Sammy (Labruna) and the crew say we’ve had it the hardest out of every state and like I said, it’s going to be so much more sweeter when we win.
Are you envious that Tim can travel to get the best sparring partners that perhaps he may not be getting in Sydney?
Not at all. I wish Tim and the team all the best. It’s a sport at the end of the day and may the best man win.
There’s going to be no stone left unturned on my end and I’m sure there’s not going to be on his end.
We will just make do with what we got and hopefully it passes. It’s out of my hands.
You know if I was in control of the government, I would be saying ‘Zerafa-Tszyu: There’s no pauses, we’re going ahead’ but unfortunately, it’s out of my hands, it’s out of everyone in Melbourne’s hands.
I’ve just got to be as positive as I can and leave it all in the ring.
Jermell Charlo said Tim Tszyu probably had no chance of fighting him in his career – how would you react if you heard that from the current champion?
Look it’s out of my hands but it would be disheartening.
Charlo’s the man at the moment. I saw it vaguely but I didn’t really pay attention to it.
I did see that he got his name wrong, I did see that. I saw he called him Tim Kostya Tszyu and again brings up his old man.
I saw there wasn’t a $10 million offer or whatever his team said that he offered and it came out of Charlo’s mouth that it was not true. Again, goes back to my original statements that don’t believe what the media always say because they tried to turn it on me when they said they didn’t send me a hand photo and what not, so it is what it is (referencing Tim pulling out of a previous fight with an injured hand).
Is it irrelevant anyway to you and perhaps Charlo will be saying your name in the future?
I’ve actually met Charlo as he fought on my undercard when I fought Peter Quillin, so he knows who I am, he was in my changerooms and we actually follow each other on Instagram, so he definitely knows who I am. That’s a positive (laughs).
Whether a world champion knows your name or not, doesn’t take anything away from Tim or his dream and accomplishments.
It is what it is and Tim’s on his way. May the best man win on the night. The talk all stops, the fight’s here. He can say this and I can say that but as long as we go in healthy and come out healthy that’s all that matters. May the best man win.
It’s been a long time coming and it’s going to be a war.
Are you excited to be back on Main Event and the added interest and attention that a Pay Per View headline fight brings?
100%. We want our hard work and dedication to be notice on the big levels and we want to be involved in the biggest fights. At the moment that’s me and Timmy.
I’ve been overseas and fought some of the biggest names and Tim is yet to do that, but he’s on his way.
We’ve got two of the best in the country putting it all on the line and the best man’s going to win. A career is going to be elevated and some’s going back to rebuilding.
I truly believe I will have my hand raised that night as there’s a lot of things that we’re going to bring to the fight that he hasn’t faced yet, where I have.
It’s going to be a tricky fight, I know that. He’s a hard opponent. He’s a real patient opponent but again I think I bring a lot more to the table and July 7 he’ll see that.