Former WBO welterweight champion Jeff ‘The Hornet’ Horn 19-1-1 (13) will move up to middleweight to take on compatriot Michael ‘Pretty Boy’ Zerafa 26-3 (15) at the Bendigo Stadium in Bendigo, Australia on August 31.
“I’ve hand-picked him [Zerafa] because he’s the best in Australia,” Horn told reporters at the venue during the official fight announcement on Friday.
“He’s one of the best there is at the weight. So, I need a challenge to want to train hard and focus on a fight, and that’s exactly why I picked him.”
Horn, who recently turned down a $2 million opportunity to face Ryota Murata in favour of remaining in Brisbane for the birth of his second child, has fought just once since losing his 147-pound world title to Terence Crawford in the United States in June last year.
That fight, a 96-second blowout of Anthony Mundine last November, means the former schoolteacher will have had little more than half a round ring-time in the previous 15 months when he meets Zerafa.
The 27-year-old carpenter, who gave former IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook a tough fight last December, promises to be a tougher test than Mundine and is already speaking about springing the upset.
“We’re excited, me and the team… I think they’ve overlooked me,” Zerafa said at the official press conference.
“We’re going out there to make a statement and prove a point, and I truly believe I will knock Jeff Horn out.”
This month marks the two-year anniversary of Horn’s surprise 12-round unanimous points decision victory over future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquaio at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
The victory launched Horn’s career internationally, leading to his ill-fated title defence against the pound-for-pound rated Crawford, who stopped him in ninth round at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A win over Zerafa will consolidate Horn’s claims to being a legitimate world title threat at 160-pounds.
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