Warning: Contains topics that may be distressing or triggering
Michael Zerafa has opened on his “three years of hell”, revealing he even had thoughts about taking his own life in the “very dark” period that followed the death of a fellow fighter in training and his infamous withdrawal against Tim Tszyu.
Zerafa makes his return to a Main Event card when he takes on undefeated Italian Danilo ‘Dash’ Creati as the co-main event for Paul Gallen v Justin Hodges 2 on November 23 in Sydney.
In a candid discussion with Ben Damon on the Main Event Podcast, Zerafa spoke about how he still wears the backlash for the collapsed 2021 bout with Tszyu which he says was a result of being “lied to” by his former team.
Watch Gallen v Hodges 2 & Michael Zerafa’s return to the ring LIVE on Main Event available on Foxtel & Kayo Sports, Wednesday November 23 from 7pm AEDT ORDER NOW >
“Mentally it was tough … that was super hard and I was in a very dark place. It was very, very hard to bounce back,” Zerafa said.
“I was getting death threats. I couldn’t step out of my front door without being abused. And it was sad because I was getting all this and I had nothing to do with it. I was just literally being loyal (to my team) and I copped it and everyone was calling me a chicken and that I ran away from a fight.
“And I’ve never run away from a fight in my life and I never will, win, lose, or draw. Tim could have knocked me out in the first round. I still would’ve showed up, but unfortunately, like I said, things were said and I was told different.”
Zerafa said he could not go into too much detail about the events and conversations that led to the scrapping of the fight in Newcastle that was to be held amid strict Covid pandemic rules but he insists he was mislead about certain things.
“There’s a lot of money that can be made and maybe that was a motivation, but sadly, again, I had to wear all that and it was very, very tough,” Zerafa said.
“It took me a long time to bounce back and if it wasn’t for the people around me in my small circle, I don’t know where I would be. I don’t even know if I’d be here today because honestly I thought some pretty bad stuff and it was very tough.”
The 2021 ordeal continued a turbulent time after fellow boxer Dwight Ritchie passed away during a routine sparring session with Zerafa in Melbourne in 2019. Zerafa also lost good friend and former AFL footballer Shane Tuck to suicide in 2020.
Zerafa describes it as “three years of hell”.
“It was very dark and I woke up some mornings and I didn’t want to be here,” he said.
“It was so bad. Beating Jeff Horn … I was a king of Australia. I did what Manny Pacquiao couldn’t, I was the first one to do it and everyone loved me.
“I was on every channel and I was the man and then (went) to being hated for nothing.
“ … I hope people can see and hear this interview because like I said, I had nothing to do with it and I just had to soldier on.”
Zerafa said he was still processing Ritchie’s death after the 27-year-old collapsed in training and could not be revived.
“People say to me, How do you get over it? And I say, I don’t. And there’s days I go for runs and I’ll just start crying because I can never get that out of my head,” he said.
“..To witness it all and be in the ring and feeling helpless and not being able to help him, I remember him saying to me ‘help’ and I couldn’t do anything … I think about it all the time and I hope no one ever has to go through what I went through because I’ve never seen anybody die in front of me … I think about it all the time.”
Zerafa spoke with optimism about his return against Creati which he expects will precede a blockbuster bout in Australia with global superstar Gennady Golovkin and, he hopes, a fight with Tszyu in the future.
No Limit Boxing’s, ONE MORE TIME, on Wednesday 23 November 2022 at Aware Super Theatre, ICC Sydney. Locked in an exciting TRIPLE HEADER featuring:
Michael Zerafa v Danilo Creati
Zerafa, the #1 rated Middleweight in the world puts his mandatory status on the line when he takes on undefeated Italian/Australian opponent Danilo Creati, who convincingly defeated Olympian Cameron Hammond earlier in the year.
Paul Gallen v Justin Hodges – Re-Match
A highly anticipated heavyweight re-match between Origin rivals Paul Gallen and Justin Hodges, in what will be Gallen’s last ever professional boxing fight.
The most exciting prospect in Australia, fighting in the light heavyweight division.
Originally published as Michael Zerafa opens up on ‘very dark’ fallout to infamous boxing backflip