Tim Tszyu continues to line up the biggest name that his nation has to offer.
The second-generation junior middleweight contender from Australia is set for a domestic grudge match with veteran fringe contender Michael Zerafa. The regional junior middleweight title fight will take place July 7 live on Australia Main Event from Newcastle Entertainment Centre in Newcastle, Australia.
“There’s been a lot of things said that I take personally,” Tszyu stated during a press conference held Thursday morning (local time) to formally announce the event. “I don’t like him. July 7, we get to go in the ring and punch each other in the face.”
Both boxers are coming off of high-profile knockout wins this past March. Tszyu (18-0, 14KOs) picked up his fourth consecutive knockout and third since the pandemic after stopping two-time title challenger Dennis Hogan in the 5th round of their March 31 clash at this very venue.
Zerafa (28-4, 17KOs) returned to the win column 18 days prior, following a 1st round knockout of badly faded former super middleweight titlist Anthony Mundine on March 13 in Bendigo, Australia. The win came following a pair of fights with former welterweight titlist Jeff Horn, whom Zerafa stopped in the 9th round of their Aug. 2019 showdown—also in Bendigo—before dropping a 10-round majority decision in their Dec. 2019 rematch.
“He’s doing great for his career. But the crossroad ends here on July 7,” vowed Zerafa, who was previously best known for losses to former titlists Peter Quillin and Kell Brook. “The talk stops. The contracts are signed, the fight is done. He hasn’t fought anyone like me. Credit to Tim, he’s done a good job. But he hasn’t shown that he can do what I have done.”
Tszyu continues to be groomed for a title shot although all such an opportunity isn’t likely to come until the end of the year at the earliest. Lineal champion and WBC/WBA/IBF titlist Jermell Charlo (34-1, 18KOs) and WBO title claimant Brian Castaño (17-0-1, 12KOs) are due to collide on July 17, with the winner to become the division’s first-ever undisputed champion in the four-belt era.
That leaves Tszyu—whose father Kostya Tszyu is a Hall of Fame former lineal junior welterweight champion—to remain active against the type of opposition to ready him for that stage. It also helps when his best competition is among the nation’s most recognizable names.
“We got the two biggest names in this division in Australia,” notes Tszyu, whose first win out of the pandemic was a 9th round knockout of Horn in their one-sided affair last August in Townsville, Australia. “We’ve been interested in this fight for a long time. I’ve never rejected a fight.”
Zerafa and his team challenge that claim, although it remains a moot point. The two sides quickly agreed to terms for this fight, which the 29-year-old Melbourne native vows will launch his career while stalling the momentum Tszyu has been able to enjoy to this point.
“He’s had the help with that last name. But credit to him, he’s done his job,” notes Zerafa. “He’s beaten the names they’ve put in front of him. They know I can upset anybody. I’m world-class. I’ve done everything he has. Everyone he’s fought I’ve beaten.
“July 7, the talk stops.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox