Home Sports Issac Hardman attacks bitter rival Michael Zerafa at weigh-in after being called...

Issac Hardman attacks bitter rival Michael Zerafa at weigh-in after being called a racist

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Michael Zerafa says he can’t wait to put Issac Hardman ‘to sleep’ after punches were thrown with their world title eliminator weigh-in descending into chaos.

For the second time the pair had to be separated, after they also came to blows at a pre-fight media conference last month.

‘Pretty Boy’ Zerafa and ‘The Headsplitter’ Hardman will square off in a high-stakes middle-weight showdown on Wednesday night at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

The victor is set to take on Brazil’s new No.1-ranked contender Esquiva Falcao for the IBF belt, after unified world champion Gennady Golovkin opted to vacate the division and chase a third bout against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

After a war of words at the Tuesday media session, the pair stood up to pose for photographs but Queenslander Hardman attacked Zerafa, clipping promoter Sam Labruna with a punch.

Promoter Sam Labruna tries to break up the fighters as Hardman (right) latches on to Zerafa (left), who responded by throwing a couple of right hands

Promoter Sam Labruna tries to break up the fighters as Hardman (right) latches on to Zerafa (left), who responded by throwing a couple of right hands

Hardman was taken away - but one of his team got into an ugly scuffle with an onlooker while they were on their way out

Hardman was taken away – but one of his team got into an ugly scuffle with an onlooker while they were on their way out

The bitter rivals traded a flurry of shots before being separated with the staged weigh-in cancelled.

Just before the two were asked to face off for the cameras, Zerafa said: ‘He’s racist, he’s racist, he’s racist, he’s a racist.’

Hardman replied: ‘The remark about racism is crazy, I don’t know where the f*** that comes from. This guy is clutching at straws, he needs something to get him over the line and make me the bad guy. This guy is the bad guy, everyone f***ing hates this clown. 

‘My partner is of colour, my two best mates are Samoan, how am I racist? That’s craziness. Just because I’m going to punch this bloke’s head in and he’s Maltese, who cares? I don’t care about that. I’m going to smash this bloke, it doesn’t make me racist.’

Hardman then threw the microphone to Zerafa and said, ‘There you go, d***head.’

‘You’re getting emotional, brother. We got any tissues in here? …  You’re a racist sook,’ Zerafa shot back.

The pair kept arguing as the MC tried to wind things up, and when Labruna said it was time for the face-off, Hardman replied, ‘I wouldn’t advise it.’ 

Zerafa repeatedly called Hardman a racist and a'racist sook' in comments that clearly got under his hated rival's skin

Zerafa repeatedly called Hardman a racist and a ‘racist sook’ in comments that clearly got under his hated rival’s skin

He then grabbed Zerafa’s shirt and pushed him in the face, with Zerafa throwing two right hands before Hardman came back with a right of his own.

Hardman was escorted from the venue, with a member of his team involved in an ugly scuffle with an on-looker on the way out.

‘He tried to grab me and he learnt pretty quick that’s not what you do and he copped a few right hands and then my team jumped on him,’ a seething Zerafa told AAP.

‘He got thrown out and he’s probably used to that, being in pubs all the time, that’s what he does.

‘I can’t wait to go out there and actually put him to sleep.’

Zerafa, whose record is 29-4 (18KO) said he hadn’t encountered such pre-fight antics before.

Hardman (left) switched from MMA to become a full-time boxer and has displayed a knack for scoring knockouts with his heavy hands

Hardman (left) switched from MMA to become a full-time boxer and has displayed a knack for scoring knockouts with his heavy hands

Zerafa - seen here beating Anthony Mundine by knockout in March last year - will get a shot at the IBF title if he can get past Hardman

Zerafa – seen here beating Anthony Mundine by knockout in March last year – will get a shot at the IBF title if he can get past Hardman

Hardman is a former MMA fighter whose record stands at 12-0 (10KO) since switching full-time to boxing.

‘It just shows he’s intimidated, he’s too emotional,’ the 30-year-old Zerafa said.

‘He’s an absolute animal with no respect and no class, it’s pretty disappointing.’

Before things turned physical Hardman said his preparation for the biggest fight of his career had been spot on.

He said he’d spent time training with star light middleweight Tim Tszyu, who Zerafa was scheduled to fight last year before a bizarre late withdrawal.

‘I was doing 10 rounds before I was even in the training camp with Tim Tszyu, which is who this coward ran away from,’ the 25-year-old said.

‘It’s been good, there’s been 11 different training partners over the 10 weeks so the variety has been unreal and it’s going to show.

‘I’m going to walk straight up to this man and bounce my gloves off his head.’

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