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.
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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.
If I was Jeff Horn I'd be requesting no more 9th rounds in fights. Pacquiao had him out on his feet & Crawford and Zerafa both stopped him.— Aussie Boxing Scribe (@el_pollo_loco) August 31, 2019
I was yelling at the screen for the ref to stop the Jeff Horn fight.— Char (@realCharty) August 31, 2019
Actually, the referee & Horn’s corner didn’t do Jeff Horn justice today. Jeff’s cornermen should’ve thrown in the towel and the ref should’ve stopped the fight after the knockdown. Again, Jeff took unnecessary punishment instead of being saved for another day #boxing #HornZerafa https://t.co/iEkC1zHkTB— Francisco A. Salazar (@FSalazarBoxing) August 31, 2019
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.
Horn with ‘soul searching’ to do after loss
Horn has to decide whether he has the hunger to to do the harder preparation demanded by his trainer Glenn Rushton to rebuild his boxing career after his upset loss to Michael Zerafa.
Horn's mooted December 23 clash with WBA regular middleweight champion Ryota Murata in Japan looks to be off the table after he was stopped in the ninth round at Bendigo Stadium on Saturday night.
While there was a a rematch clause in the contact, Horn isn't sure if he will exercise it, go down to super welterweight or welterweight, or even retire
"I definitely don't want to be doing this game for too long that's for sure, you don't want to be battered up and bruised," Horn said.
Rushton says it's a matter of hunger and preparation for Horn, not talent.
Horn said he had to reassess whether he still had the hunger to continue.
"I've got to do some soul searching and see if I've got what it takes in myself to do hard preparation and get ready for another big fight like this," Horn said.