Michael Zerafa vs Issac Hardman ULTIMATE GUIDE: Boxers pulled apart at fiery pre-fight weigh-in
Michael Zerafa and Issac Hardman threw punches at each other after accusations of racism were levelled during a wild brawl at a press conference ahead of Wednesday night's fight at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The feud exploded last month at a pre-fight event, and when speaking to Wide World of Sports on Monday, Hardman wanted to make it clear that none of this was for show.
With the victor set to a get a shot at Brazilan no.1 contender Esquiva Falcao for the IBF middle-weight belt, both fighters came to blows and had to be pulled apart for the second time, with a press conference last month also seeing tense scenes.
After the pair traded insults in their opening statements, the press conference heated up as the host suggested both Zerafa and Hardman had shown respect to each other on social media during the fight build-up.Hardman then launched into a passionate defence of himself, insisting that any suggestions of vilification were 'craziness'.
Not long after the pair stood up for the face-off, separated by promoter Sam Labruna, Hardman struck Zerafa to the side of the face, with a brawl ensuing as people came from the crowd to separate the two fighters.
Eventually Hardman left the venue, but not before being involved in another fracas with a member of the crowd on his way out.Earlier, Hardman said he believed his MMA experience and pre-fight training with champion Tim Tszyu would him in good stead to win the bout.
It's no secret that Issac Hardman and Michael Zerafa don't like each other, and the feud somehow reached another level at Tuesday's pre-fight weigh-in.CCTV footage of the event shows Hardman taking exception to something that was said, and the pair having to be dragged apart as punches are exchanged.
He would like it to be fake, and then we can be friends after - he tried to do that at the press conference - but that's not how I was brought up. If you say certain things, you stand by it," Hardman said.
"I do not like this guy - just the sight of him makes me want to punch the blood from his nose. He lacks the qualities of a good man; no integrity, he flips on his word, he says one thing and does another."
Nothing is set in stone in terms of either dates or location, but Hardman has expressed his desire for a fight in his hometown of Brisbane, should the Brazilian be willing to fight in Australia. With an American fight highly unlikely, there's every chance that one of the two fighters will be granted some sort of home-ground advantage.