Top contender Zerafa delivers bold Tszyu claim

Michael Zerafa has been formally named the WBA’s No.1 middleweight contender, with the Victorian made a mandatory opponent for either of the sanctioning body’s two champions.

The 30-year-old was an honorary guest at the WBA convention in Orlando last weekend, rubbing shoulders with former champions as fellow Australian Tim Tszyu prepares for his shot at a world title against Jermell Charlo in late January.

Zerafa now joins Tszyu as the only Australians ranked No.1 by their respective sanctioning bodies, albeit at a different weight class.

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It means Zerafa, who is also ranked No.2 by the IBF, is all but guaranteed a shot at fighting WBA super world middleweight Gennady Golovkin or WBA world middleweight champ, Erislandy Lara.

While there’s no agreement in place with either fighter, the fact the Aussie has been moved up following his wins over Danilo Creati and Issac Hardman, means Golovkin or Lara will have to face Zerafa or face losing their belt.

“On February 14 a decision will be made on Golovkin on whether he will be stripped or defend his title,” Zerafa told Wide World of Sports.

“Once we find out, then that will make things clearer but they can’t ignore the fact that I’ve been inducted as No.1 contender in the WBA.

“Stylistically Golovkin would suit me better. He’s getting on a little bit and his style, he comes forward, his pace isn’t too high.

“Lara is a little bit more tricky southpaw, he’s long and rangey. Everyone thinks I’m mad for wanting to fight Golovkin but he’s a bigger payday and a bigger name.”

As Zerafa prepares for what he hopes will be an eventful 2023, rival Tszyu gears up for what will be the biggest fight of his career for the super welterweight belts in Las Vegas.

Zerafa recently joined the No Limit stable, joining Tszyu and a host of rising stars in Australian boxing. The timing of the move couldn’t have been better for Australia’s biggest promoters, who also have Liam Wilson fighting for the WBO super featherweight world title on February 4 in Arizona against Emanuel Navarrete.

While Tszyu is undoubtedly in the best shape of his life for the Charlo bout, if he does lose he may have to take a step back and accept a fight at home in Australia for his next bout.

If that were to happen, then Zerafa would certainly be seen as a favorable opponent, especially since both fighters are now under the same promotional umbrella. However, Zerafa says such a proposal isn’t a fait accompli.

“(Tszyu) just doesn’t get to pick and choose who he wants to fight,” Zerafa added. “If he does lose, and all the best to him, he’s fighting Charlo, I think it’s going to be a hard fight to win, but if he loses and comes back and wants to fight then it goes to my team for negotiations.

“He doesn’t just come back after a loss and say ‘I want to fight Zerafa’ and Zerafa says ‘yeah no worries’… I’ve got bigger things.

“As much as everyone is hyping Tim Tszyu up I’ve got the exact same thing.

“I’m just waiting for my shot now, and it will happen 2023. But I know that fight (Tszyu) will happen eventually. No disrespect to Tim and his team (but) he’s biting off more than he can chew with Charlo. “

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