Michael Zerafa wanted to make a statement on Wednesday night but there is no chance this is the statement he was hoping for against Danilo Creati.
Coming into the fight ranked No. 1 in the WBA and No. 2 in the IBF, Zerafa was expected to make light work of the 8-0 Italian.
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A somewhat maligned figure in Australian boxing after he copped the blame for his fight with Tim Tszyu falling apart during Covid, Zerafa was booed regularly throughout the night.
But the boxing world was left perplexed as a dour chess match devoid of meaningful highlights was what the fans were given.
Zerafa was heading for a fight with middleweight king Gennady Golovkin, perhaps in Australia, but it was a bizarre fight.
Amid comments throughout the bout, in the sixth round, Main Event boxing commentator Ben Damon said: “He’s ranked No. 1 in the world with the WBA at middleweight, No. 2 with the IBF, so he was poised for something enormous A loss here to Danilo Creati and everything goes away.”
Boxing legend Jeff Fenech was perplexed throughout the fight as well as Zerafa didn’t seem to throw too much.
“I know it’s important to win but isn’t it great to win impressively with something on the horizon. Don’t you want to show the world Am I ready for this? This is definitely not the statement I was looking for from Michael Zerafa – and I’m a huge Michael fan, I like him a lot.”
Zerafa won the unanimous decision comfortable, taking a 98-93, 98-92 and 99-91 victory but he was under no illusions it was a poor outing.
“It was a pretty s**t performance from me,” Zerafa admitted. “He’s very awkward and tough, I definitely overlooked him. No excuses, he’s definitely tougher than he looks.
“Full credit to him and his team, I took this on four weeks notice but I haven’t fought in three years and I need the rounds. He’s one tough dude.”
Zerafa’s team is also in the US and he called out Gennady Golovkin and Erislandy Lara, as well as Tim Tszyu “after he gets knocked out”.
It saw him showered in boos.
But speaking afterwards, Paul Kent said Zerafa’s uninspiring win may turn off those huge fights.
He said Paul Gallen, who claimed a win over Justin Hodges in his final fight, had taken young fighters with him as he delivered a platform he had built as a rugby league great.
Zerafa said Tszyu was the perfect example, building his profile in Australia.
He added the fact Zerafa “couldn’t hurt” Creati, who is essentially a super welterweight, will “cost him tens of thousands of dollars tonight”.
“Tim Tszyu did the right thing and used it as a vehicle to go out and sell himself so then when he was no longer on a Paul Gallen promotion, people still wanted to watch him fight,” Kent said.
“Michael Zerafa, who has had a troubled history in this sport, whose two high points in his career have been both fights with Jeff Horn, tonight he had an opportunity with Paul Gallen and Justin Hodges having the last fights of their careers to sit down and say ‘you people don’t know who I am, the next time I fight and you see my name, come and watch me’. And he blew that opportunity because it was a snorefest.
“There were people I know who are lifetime boxing people who were walking out during the fight saying ‘life is too short for this’.”
Kent wasn’t finished however saying that despite the win, Zerafa’s plans may have been spoiled by the lackluster performance.
“I’ll tell you the problem for Zerafa will be for the potential Gennady Golovkin fight, it’s not that Golovkin won’t want to fight, it’s whether Golovkin thinks he can make money out of fighting him,” Kent said. “That’s going to be the issue.
“Golovkin’s going to have seen nothing in that performance that’s going to make him go ‘I better be careful with this guy’.
“What he’s going to see in that performance is ‘how do I sell this fight?’”
Jeff Horn agreed and said it wouldn’t be exciting for Golovkin.
“People who are sitting at home tonight paid $60 for this tonight. Are they going to pay $60 to watch Michael Zerafa again? He’s going to struggle for that,” Kent added.