It’s been two years in the making, so Michael Zerafa isn’t about to let the opportunity slip through his fingers.
In fact, the pugilist nicknamed Pretty Boy is quietly confident he can end Tim Tszyu’s unbeaten reign when the two slug it out for the super welterweight title at the Tszyucastle Entertainment Centre on 7 July.
He boasts a pretty handy record, too.
Zerafa has won 27 bouts, 16 by knock-out, with four losses to highly-ranked Jeff Horn, Kell Brook, Peter Quillan and Arif Magomedov.
“I’m not overawed by this challenge,” he said.
“I’ve fought in bigger stadiums before against better calibre fighters (like Brook) in front of 20,000 people.
“I know I can do that.
“So, the Tszyucastle chant won’t worry me.
“I’ll just block it out.
“But, the venue is amazing.
“I wish the fight was tonight, I can’t wait.
“I’m looking forward to it.
“And, it’s what the fight fans wanted – I’m grateful to be a part of it.
“It is going to be war.
“Plus, they can rename the stadium after I beat him, call it Zerafaville.”
Zerafa said his rivalry with Tszyu was “great for the sport”.
“The real winners are the fight fans and boxing itself,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.
“With Timmy and I going at it, what more could you ask for?
“However, all the talk stops now.
“I’ve got huge respect for his team and I’m sure he does for mine.
“It just comes down to 7 July.
“Take nothing away from him, with every fight he’s getting better.
“Tim’s a champion and holds himself well.
“But, I’m going to be his toughest test.
“I’ve got a job to do – I’m focused on securing the W (win).”
Zerafa, who hammered Anthony Mundine a couple of months ago, is keen to do likewise to Tszyu.
“I’ve fought bigger names than Tim, that’s not meant to disrespect him,” he said.
“He probably won’t agree with me. However, he’s definitely my hardest opponent in Australia.
“He’s doing great things – and moving out of the shadows of his old man (Kostya).
“That’s a terrific legacy.
“To beat him, I need to get the mind right, which we’re working on 110%.
“I think I can stop him pretty quickly. It’s either going to go the distance or I’ll finish it early.”
Zerafa first floated the idea of a showdown with Tszyu almost 18 months ago.
So, he’s determined to make it count.
“I’ve been chasing this fight a while, so it’s exciting to know it’s finally happening,” he said.
“To walk into the [Newcastle] stadium, I had butterflies.
“I honestly wish it was tonight but I’ve got to wait another 7-8 weeks.
“It’s going to be electric.
“I just focus on what’s ahead and, this time, it’s Tim Tszyu.
“I’ll have a different game plan, however we’ll still train the same.
“It really doesn’t matter who’s in front of me.
“I want to thank No Limit Boxing and Team Tszyu for giving me a shot.”