Tim Tszyu has rejected claims he once dodged a fight with Michael Zerafa, labelling his Aussie compatriot "soft" after the pair agreed to a blockbuster bout in July.
Tszyu and Zerafa have engaged in a spiteful verbal battle after announcing their all-Australian super fight in Newcastle on July 7.
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Biding his time waiting for a shot at either Argentina's WBO light middleweight world champion Brian Castano or American Jermall Charlo, who holds the other three divisional straps, Tszyu is undefeated in 18 professional fights.
The 26-year-old insists he has too much class for Zerafa and will demonstrate the gulf in class between the pair when they lock horns.
“I’m ready for the big boys already, I’m an old school fighter, these boys have a few jabs, a few crosses, they don’t build them the same way, everyone is soft these days,” Tszyu said.
“Zerafa’s got no idea. Deep down, he knows he’s a soft man inside.”
But Zerafa, with 28 wins from his 32 bouts, insists Tszyu hasn't beaten anyone of note.
"I'm world class, I've fought everyone in Australia," Zerafa said.
"The guys he's fought, I've beaten and I'm a huge risk to him and July 7 it's going to be fireworks.
"I've wanted to get my hands on Tim for a while. It's personal."
The grudge match is also personal for Tszyu, who was accused of "fighting Venezuelan taxi drivers" by his upcoming opponent.
He also hasn't forgotten Zerafa confronting him ringside last December after knocking out Kiwi Bowyn Morgan in the first round at Bankwest Stadium.
"There's been a lot of build-up to it and there's been a lot of things said that I take personally that I don't like," Tszyu said.
"So we're going to be in the ring and punching each other in the face and that's all that matters."
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Tszyu (18-0, 14KO) denies claims from Zerafa (28-4, 17KO) that he ran away from a fight against his compatriot several years ago, after explaining that he was on antibiotics with a Staph infection.
"Well there is a lie right there, he told me he did it in sparring," Zerafa claimed.
"I got a photo that looked like the hand of a 60-year-old man, it wasn’t even the same skin colour as Tim."
Tszyu said he was ready to fight Zerafa until his upcoming opponent lost his rematch against Jeff Horn, who the young Aussie subsequently destroyed in a Townsville TKO last year.
"We've got the two biggest names in Australia right now in this division and we're fighting for that crown to be the best here in Australia," Tszyu said.
"Me personally I've never rejected a fight.
"I've always been aware of his abilities and I've been watching him closely so I'm perfectly ready for this fight.
Zerafa ended the career of former world champion Anthony Mundine in his most recent fight in March but that did little to impress Tszyu.
"Everyone knows Mundine's too old and he was at the end of his game," Tszyu said, having also branded Zerafa little more than a "YouTube fighter" and a "wannabe Conor McGregor".
"He can call me whatever he wants. When I was fighting world-class opponents, he was drinking warm milk before bed," Zerafa said.
"The talk stops. July 7 my life changes, my team's life changes."
Tszyu's manager Glenn Jennings said he'd "heard it all before".
"It's pretty much the same broken record," Jennings said.
"Everybody comes up on to this stage and says the same thing, that they're going to stop Tim, he's not at their level, he hasn't fought any international opponents and consistently Tim beats them.
"I always like to say we're not big on predictions but to date no one's been able to handle Tim. I don't see that changing."
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