Brisbane Convention Centre
Sponsored by Oxmar Properties
Main event: Jeff Horn vs Michael Zerafa
“I love Brisbane,” said a jubilant Jeff Horn after avenging his August loss to Michael Zerafa.
The ‘River City’ was the scene of Horn’s ground-breaking win against Manny Pacquiao two years ago and last night it hosted another epic ‘Hornet’ win.
Zerafa entered the fight, on the odds, a strong favourite. But as Oxmar Properties Director Phil Murphy warned the Victorian in the pre-fight press conference, “When Queenslanders are fighting on their home turf there is a lot of danger.”
From the beginning of Round One, Horn came at Zerafa, forcing his opponent to defend. Coming in behind heavy punches, Horn found Zerafa’s clinch often. Such was the early aggression from Horn, he threw Zerafa towards the canvas from one clinch at the end of the round.
More of the same came in Round Two and Three as Horn pushed the pace, firing off his jab frequently and effectively. Zerafa stayed composed and began connecting with his own punches as the fight levelled out in the middle rounds.
The two jostled for control of the ring as the fight passed Round Five. Horn was up on the scorecards and was looking fitter than the first fight but Zerafa was gaining momentum with some big punches in Round Six and Seven.
Photo Credit: Aude Photography
Then came Round Nine.
“I hate that ninth round. I’ve got that voodoo around Round 9. I just don’t like it,” Horn remarked after the fight.
“I said to Michael, ‘He (Horn) doesn’t like the ninth round.’,” Zerafa’s trainer Blake Caparello noted in the post-fight press conference.
Zerafa hurt Horn early in Round Nine and continued to punish ‘The Hornet’ as the round progressed. It was shades of the first fight where Zerafa had Horn reeling in Round Nine and it was soon over.
“I was all over him,” Zerafa said after the fight.
“One of our corner was very close to it (throwing in the towel) but I said not yet,” Horn’s trainer, Glenn Rushton noted.
As Horn staggered back once again, late in Round Nine, he threw a ‘left-right’ that landed flush and dropped Zerafa. The Brisbane crowd that thought it was all but over for their hometown hero erupted. Nobody sat back down. Except Zerafa who had risen only to be knocked down for a second time in the round.
Astonishingly, both fighters made it to the end of Round Nine and came out in Round Ten to trade blows until the final bell. The referee, whose white shirt was now red with blood, stepped in marking a conclusion to one of the great Australian boxing bouts.
A majority decision went the way of Horn (98-90, 97-92, 94-94) and eleven stitches above the left eye.
For all the talk before the fight, Zerafa was gracious in defeat,
“Jeff was the better man tonight. He fought well. He fought smart,”
Redeemed, Horn can now enjoy a well-earned break and look ahead to 2020,
“I’m just going to have a nice Christmas and New Year’s. I’ll have a good break.”
Writer: Liam Maguire