Brisbane born Jeff Horn has the carrot of a world title fight against WBA regular champion Ryota Murata being dangled in front of his eyes, all he has to do is beat compatriot Michael Zerafa when they meet at the Bendigo Stadium, in Bendigo, Victoria on Saturday 31st August.
Horn knows all about "not allowing the chance of a lifetime to pass by," having fought Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane back in July 2017 for the WBO world welterweight title. After the performance of a lifetime, the judges awarded "The Hornet" a unanimous decision victory, a win that must rank as one of the best by any Australian boxer.
After a homecoming title defence against Englishman Gary Corcoran, Horn defended against mandatory contender Terence "Bud" Crawford at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. This time Jeff couldn't find a way past the sleek boxing skills of Crawford and was stopped in the 9th round.
Five months later, Horn faced 43-year-old Anthony Mundine in a big domestic showdown at home in Brisbane and blew the veteran away in 1 round, bringing about talk of the Murata fight if he can just get past Zerafa.
Michael Zerafa's career has been managed very differently to his opponent's. Horn was matched against good opposition from early days whereas Zerafa was given opposition with mainly losing records. In 2014 he took his first overseas job and lost a unanimous decision to the unbeaten Arif Magomedov. After two easy wins back home he travelled to the USA and lost in 5 rounds to Peter Quillin in a non-title fight. Another 5 fights in Australia and Zerafa challenged Tewkesbury's Adam Harper (8-0-0) for the vacant Commonwealth title at home in Melbourne, winning a wide unanimous decision.
In December 2018, Zerafa faced former IBF welterweight champion, Kell Brook in Sheffield, England. Although Zerafa lost by a unanimous decision he made Brook look less than a dangerous world title contender. The loss probably did more for the Melbourne native than the win did for the local man.
There is nothing in Zerafa's record to make you think that he has the skills to beat Horn. But, will he be able to last the distance?
Prediction: Jeff Horn to stop Zerafa in 8 rounds or less.