Jeff Horn's shot at a middleweight world boxing title in December appears to have been wrecked after he was outboxed and stopped in the ninth round by by Victorian Michael Zerafa in Bendigo.
Horn was dropped in the second and ninth rounds and a barrage of shots following the latter knockdown prompted the referee to halt the bout at Bendigo Stadium on Saturday night.
Zerafa (27-3, 15 KOs) utilised his jab superbly and moved well, rarely allowing Horn to get inside and pressure him, earning himself a regional title.
At the time of the stoppage, Zerafa was ahead by three on two judges cards and seven on the third.
"I'm not surprised,' Zerafa said.
It was Horn's first loss to an Australian professional.
"Im a bit shattered ... I just felt really sluggish,' Horn said.
Horn (19-2-1, 13 KOs) started to assert himself in the third, landing his first significant shots, but was also cut over his left eye following a head clash.
Horn got tagged with some more rights in the fourth and Zerarfa was popping his left jab into the Queenslander's face.
Horn worked his way back in the fifth and started the sixth well but the Victorian came back strongly near the end of the latter round.
Zerafa landed some more re big rights in the eighth and by the end of that round he was showboating to the crowd.
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Meanwhile, Jeff Fenech protege Brock Jarvis displayed talent and toughness, surviving the hardest test of his blossoming boxing career, with a 10-round points decision over super bantamweight world title challenger Ernesto Saulong in Bendigo.
Jarvis displayed superior hand speed and foot movement, putting together numerous slick combinations throughout Saturday night's bout, but he also wore several shots from his vastly more-experienced opponent.
He was given the decision by margins of 10, eight and six points, although they didn't indicate how tough a workout it was for Jarvis, who showed he could go 10 rounds.
The regional title win is set to earn Jarvis a world ranking.
The result ended a run of 15 straight inside the distance for the 21-year-old Sydneysider Jarvis (17-0, 15 KOs) since he was taken six rounds on his debut.
Filipino Saulong (22-5-2, 9 KOs), who unsuccessfully challenged for the IBF title in March 2018, was cut near his left eye, but always looked to heap pressure on the Australian.
Highly rated Queenslander Issac Hardman improved to 5-0, but was taken the distance for the first time in scoring a six-round majority points win over Mitchell Whitelaw of NSW.
Unbeaten Queenslander Andrew Hunt suffered a first slight blemish on his record in his fifth bout, as he drew with Ankush Hooda in a willing six-round battle of southpaw super welterweights.
Likewise, Queensland heavyweight Joe Goodall's previously unblemished six-fight record received a little dent, as he fought a six-round draw with Victorian- based, Cameroon-born Christian Tsoye.
Queensland veteran Shannon O'Connell inflicted a first loss on Canberra's Bianca Elmir, scoring a six-round split decision in their entertaining super bantamweight bout.
Bendigo's Damien Lock and Lorrinda Webb both lost their bouts on the undercard.
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