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Inspired by Family and a New Voice, Michael Zerafa Aims to Upend Erislandy Lara

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Middleweight Michael Zerafa believes his third world title shot will be the charm.

Zerafa will face current WBA middleweight titleholder Erislandy Lara on March 30 in Las Vegas.

Australia’s Zerafa (31-4, 19 KOs) has taken a long road back to this point. After losing his two previous world title fights – to Peter Quillin and Kell Brook, in 2015 and 2018, respectively – Zerafa has won 6 of his last 7 bouts.

Zerafa, 31, now the WBA mandatory challenger to Lara, recently spoke at a media workout event in preparation for his upcoming bout, reflecting on his experiences since his first title loss.

“I was a boy the first time,” he said of the Quillin fight, his first in the U.S. “Now I am a man. You are going to see a big difference.

“Mentally, physically, emotionally, I just feel I am a different all-around fighter. I fought Peter Quillin at 21 years old. I stepped up too quickly. I thought I could take on the world.”

Lara (29-3-3, 17 KOs), who will be 41 next month, hasn’t fought since May 2022. His style was built on his pedigree as a Cuban amateur star, and though he has become less evasive with age, he has perhaps become more dangerous. What Lara lacks in legs today, he makes up for in power.

But Zerafa has made bold predictions about the matchup. He is confident he can become the first fighter to stop Lara.

“I truly believe that it is not going to go the distance,” Zerafa said. “I don’t look as strong as I actually am, but I have knocked out a lot of my opponents.

“Working alongside Nonito Donaire for my camp, he says the same thing.”

Donaire, a four-division titleholder and future Hall of Famer, is a new wrinkle – and a big one – on Zerafa’s team. Zerafa first met Donaire, 41, at a WBA convention, and the two took a liking to each other. Donaire now serves as the lead voice in Zerafa’s corner.

“The first time I met him, I thought this guy was really cool,” Donaire said. “This year we started connecting, and I told him, ‘Hey man, whatever I can do to help, let me know.’”

That open invitation led to Zerafa bringing Donaire into his camp. From there, Donaire found himself traveling to Australia to work with Zerafa, with whom he soon formed a bond.

And now Zerafa says he has aspirations that are bigger than just a single win or a belt around his waist.

“This is more than a fight to me,” Zerafa said. “This has been my whole life. My sister is suffering from cancer at the moment, and she is battling for her life. Her dream was to see me win a world title.

“This is it for me. This is my world title fight, and she is still with us – thank God. And I thank God for the opportunity. This is more than a fight to me.”

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