Earlier today in Melbourne, Australia, bitter middleweight rivals Michael Zerafa and Isaac Hardman settled their differences as they fought their IBF middleweight elimination bout (with the #2 ranking up for grabs). The two fighters had been going back and forth in the lead-up to the fight, with things really getting nasty at the official weigh-in – which had to be scrapped due to the two men trying to get at each other’s throats – but today it was all over in a flash.
Zerafa, by far the more experienced fighter of the two, wiped out the previously unbeaten Hardman in two rounds. Zerafa dropped his man and then finished him off with his follow-up barrage. Zerafa is now 30-4(19). Hardman, who was a significant favourite to win the fight, loses his unbeaten record in going to 12-1(10). Fans were hoping for a far more competitive fight, and a longer fight. After all the bad blood (accusations of racism being hurled), fans expected a real dog fight. Instead, Zerafa, who has been in with the likes of Kid Chocolate Quillin, Jeff Horn and Kell Brook, was by far the superior fighter.
On the same card, Cherneka Johnson won the vacant IBF women’s junior featherweight title with a split decision win over Melissa Esquivel. Scores were 97-93 and 96-95 for Johnson, while the third judge had it 96-95 for Esquivel. Johnson is the latest fighter from Australia to win a world title. Johnson is now 14-1(6), while Esquivel falls to 12-3-1(4).
The women’s fight, a hard-fought battle, was the fight of the night.
As for Zerafa and Hardman, the loser did show his conqueror some respect after today’s short fight. Hardman made no excuses, merely stating how he had been beaten by the better man: “he just got me, plain and simple,” the loser said. As for a far more emotional Zerafa, he screamed at Hardman after the fight was over and he then burst into tears. The winner had to be pulled away by his corner-men.
Zerafa is now hoping to get a shot at the IBF middleweight belt.