Jeff Horn is once again mired in controversy, with boxing experts questioning the judges’ scoring of his revenge victory over Michael Zerafa.
Horn scored a majority points win in front of a raucous sellout crowd at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Wednesday night.
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One judge scored the contest as a 94-all draw but the other two had Horn winning 98-90 and 97-92, as he took WBA and WBO regional titles off Zerafa.
The ninth round hasn't been kind to Horn in his previous big fights, being stopped by Zerafa and Terence Crawford and taking a beating from Manny Pacquio, but it was the round in which he sealed Wednesday's victory and revenge.
A desperate Zerafa, who had struggled to impose himself for most of the fight, launched a desperate attack and landed several right hands against a tiring Horn.
But the Queenslander dug deep, finding two big rights of his own to floor Zerarfa twice in the last 35 seconds of the ninth.
However the judges’ scoring has now been called into question.
Corbin Middlemas of the ABC said the 98-90 scoring was “flat out disgraceful” while Jamie Pandaram of the Daily Telegraph said the judge who decided on 94-94 “was watching something else”.
Horn wins MD... Scores: one judge 94-94, other two gave it to Horn 90-98, 92-97. Ferlin Marsh after ruining the first fight as ref, produces a flat out disgraceful 90-98 scorecard as a judge. That did not happen #HornZerafa2— Corbin Middlemas (@CorbinMiddlemas) December 18, 2019
I had it 96-92 to Horn. In any case Horn clearly won that fight, the judge who had it a draw was watching something else— Jamie Pandaram (@JamiePandaram) December 18, 2019
Rogue judges seem to be a feature of boxing now. How could one call #zerafahorn a draw when the others had horn ahead by 8 and 5. I had it 5 too.— ron reed (@reedrw) December 18, 2019
Zerafa considering protest
Zerafa's team will consider protesting the loss, upset that referee John Cauci didn't stop the bout with Horn taking extreme punishment in the ninth.
"Everyone knows it should have been stopped in the ninth, but there's no excuses," Zerafa said.
Horn got some respite when Cauci asked the ring physician to check a cut near his left eye, which later had 11 stitches inserted.
Zerafa tried to finish off Horn after the break of around 20 seconds, but the local fighter rallied to score two knockdowns in the last 35 seconds of the round to effectively secure the win.
The beaten Victorian's team will watch the fight again on Thursday and may lodge a protest and ask for the result to be changed to a no contest.
"I just thought it was completely unnecessary for the referee to get in the way," Zerafa's manager Brendan Bourke said.
"Michael had Jeff out completely, his corner about to throw in the towel, the referee should have just stopped the fight, he cannot go and give him a break.
"It just changed the whole outcome of the fight."
Asked about whether he got a second wind while his cut was being examined, Horn said "not really, the fight is constantly stopped and broken up in little parts."
While a member of Horn's corner was poised to throw in the towel during Zerafa's onslaught, his trainer Glenn Rushton urged him not to do so.
"It's a line-ball decision, but I didn't feel the time was quite there and I think I was vindicated," said Rushton, who was widely criticised for not throwing the towel in before his fighter was stopped in Bendigo
Zerafa would like a third fight with Horn, but Rushton and promoter Dean Lonergan said their charge would now look to campaign at junior middleweight.
“I don't think I am a middleweight, I think I can easily make a light-middleweight," Horn said.