THE time for talk is over!
After a lengthy list of media engagements this week, WBO Oceania middleweight champion Jeff Horn and challenger Michael Zerafa plan on letting their fists do the talking from here on out.
The pair, who clash in the main event on a big Battle of Bendigo card on Saturday night, faced the media one last time at Bendigo Stadium at Friday's weigh-in.
Both were eager to state their case for victory, in a bout expected to be fought in front of a capacity crowd of 4700 and thousands more on pay-per-view channel Main Event.
Behind the scenes, coaches Glenn Rushton (Horn) and Sam Labruna (Zerafa) declared their charges ready to go to war in their much-anticipated 10-round championship bout.
If there is anyone more relaxed than the champion, it was Rushton, who has guided Horn's career since its inception, and was with him when the Queenslander won his first world title against boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
Rushton said her could detect an air of calm about his boxer, who is stepping up two weight divisions, to middleweight, for the first time in his career.
"He's wandering around without a care in the world, which is great; I don't want him to be burning petrol through nervousness. Why would we want to be helping the opposition?" he said.
"Jeff's in a good place."
Rushton expects Horn to be all business on Saturday night, and to vindicate the decision to make the move up in weight.
"I have no doubt whatsoever he'll make the transition; his legs look good and he has been sparring guys who are a lot bigger and are heavy punchers, and they are not bothering Jeff.
"I have no concerns about his power - he's ticking all the boxes.
"We are very confident. Michael has said a few things in the lead up, but I always say he's trying to convince himself.
"It doesn't bother me - in the end it's two blokes in the ring in a fight and it comes down to a clash of fists.
"You don't win them with your tatts, or your words - I've never been knocked out by a tatt.
"Jeff is squeaky clean - no tatts, no piercings - and he doesn't have to look tough, he just is and they find that out pretty quickly."
In the Zerafa camp, confidence could not be any higher, according to the 27-year-old's coach Labruna, after a 'exceptional' eight-week preparation.
"We have done some really hard work and Michael's had some really hard sparring, that's for sure - probably the best in the country," he said.
"We couldn't have got any better sparring for him - the preparation has been exceptional, so we are very confident.
"He has been hurting the sparring partners - not towards the end as we got a pretty big guy to spar and to roughen him up a bit, but Michael came through with flying colours.
"He's strong and he's ready - 72kg suits Michael. There are no excuses and we don't have any. We have done all the work, so I am hoping we get the victory.
"Whatever we've asked he has done, so in that regard I am super confident. I am happy with his preparation - mentally and physically."
Despite claims from the Horn camp of a lack of respect for their man from the opposing ranks, Labruna, who is in his second stint as Zerafa's coach, said both he and his fighter held the champion in the highest respect.
"Whatever has been said in the past has been said, but when it's all said and done we respect Jeff Horn a lot," he said.
"He is a very strong fighter and we will need to be on our toes.
"We need to stick to and trust our game plan. I know people think Michael's the underdog, but honestly I don't think he is."
Zerafa, who brings with him to Bendigo an accomplished 26-3 record, with 15 wins by knockout, said he was treating this fight like any other.
"To me this is just another day and another man standing in the way, unfortunately it's Jeff Horn," he said.
"We're ready for anything - anything he brings to the table we'll have answers for."
For Horn, the extra carrot of a potential WBA middleweight bout against Ryota Murata in Japan on December 23 awaits if he emerges victorious.
BATTLE OF BENDIGO | ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Date: Saturday, August 31
Doors Open: 5:30pm
First fight: 6:15pm
First televised Fight: 7:15pm
Lorrinda Webb (VIC) v Rianne Ware (WA)
(4 Rounds - featherweight)
Damien Lock (VIC) v Bo Belbin (TAS)
(4 Rounds - middleweight)
Shannon O'Connell (QLD) v Bianca Elmir (ACT)
(6 Rounds - super bantamweight)
Andrew Hunt (QLD) v Ankush Hooda (VIC)
(6 Rounds - super welterweight)
Joseph Goodall (QLD) v Christian Tsoye (VIC)
(6 Rounds - heavyweight)
Isaac Hardman (QLD) v Mitchell Whitelaw (NSW)
(6 Rounds - light heavyweight)
Brock Jarvis (AUS) v Ernesto Saulong (PHIL)
(10 Rounds - WBA Oceania super bantamweight title)
Jeff Horn (QLD) v Michael Zerafa (VIC)
(10 Rounds - WBA Oceania middleweight title)
Tom Flood Sports Centre- Park Road, Bendigo
Free park and ride service:
Bus departure times from Tom Flood Sports Centre Bendigo at the below times:
Bus return times from Bendigo Stadium to Tom Flood Sports Centre Bendigo:
*Free all day parking is available at Tom Flood Sports Centre.
Main Event - Foxtel
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