No Limit Boxing, who promote the upcoming event on July 7 in Newcastle, have confirmed that junior middleweight contender Michael Zerafa has officially withdrawn from his anticipated grudge match against unbeaten rising star Tim Tszyu.
Zerafa, and his team, refused to travel to Newcastle following the latest COVID-19 outbreaks.
Even with the venue capacity being halved to 3,000 spectators and local health officials approving the event to move forward, Zerafa and his team had concerns and refused to travel over.
Zerafa wanted the fight postponed for two weeks - which Team Tszyu refused to do.
Tszyu's promoter believes Zerafa was simply looking for a way out.
“We knew from the moment he looked Tim in the eyes at the press conference and went quiet that he never wanted this fight,” George Rose, the CEO of No Limit Boxing, said.
“I knew it. Tim knew it. Australia knew it. He never wanted this fight and all I can say is I’m sorry for everyone who has wanted this fight for so long.”
Rose also confirmed that Steve Spark has agreed to take the fight on a week’s notice.
Spark (12-1, 11 KOs) put in a good performance against former Tim Tszyu rival Jack Brubaker to win convincingly over the number one ranked Australian welterweight.
“We said rain hail or shine, Tim Tszyu was fighting in Newcastle on July 7 and that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Full credit to Steve Spark for taking this fight at short notice," Rose said. “We know he is going to make for an incredibly difficult fight for Tim.”
Tszyu was quick to thank Spark for taking the fight on short notice and views it as a dangerous bout.
“Credit to Steve for taking this fight,” Tszyu said.
“He’s a dangerous fighter with a lot of power. I’ve seen it for myself. I was ringside at the fight in Wollongong when he hammered Jack Brubaker, and saw how well he did under the bright lights. He has power, stamina and keeps the pressure on. I know he’s coming to hit and hit hard. I’m expecting that and much more next Wednesday night. It’s going to be a great fight.”
Spark was happy to step up to the plate for the big opportunity - knowing that an upset victory could change his entire life.
"I'm a fighter and fighters fight! I like challenges and life is about taking risks. With no risk there is no reward! I’m excited! I earned this fight with my last performance. Tim Tszyu beat Jack Brubaker but last time out I battered Jack Brubaker. I cut him and busted his eardrum - it was brutal," Spark said.
"Australian boxing fans need to see this fight! I’ve dreamed about fighting Tim Tszyu and obviously this has come a little bit quicker than I expected but that’s a good thing. I’m fit and I’m ready and I’m coming to Newcastle to win. This is Cinderella Man, this is Rocky! This is my golden ticket. If I can go out there and dethrone the biggest name in Australian boxing then I’m right where I want to be."