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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.

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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.



"Not at all. He (Hardman) is racist," Zerafa chimed in.



Hardman then launched into a passionate defence of himself, insisting that any suggestions of vilification were 'craziness'.



"The remark that I'm racist is crazy," Hardman shot back. "I don't know where the fuck that has come from.



"He (Zerafa) is clutching at straws and he needs something to get over the line, to make me the bad guy. This guy (Zerafa) is the bad guy. Everyone fucking 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 (Zerafa) head in and he's Maltese - who cares? I'm going to smash this bloke - doesn't make me racist."



Hardman then tossed the microphone on to Zerafa's lap and said, "here you go dickhead."



Zerafa continued his accusations of racism toward Hardman and said his opponent was 'too emotional.'



"You're getting emotional brother?" Zerafa said. "Can we get some tissues in here? You're emotional. Too much.



"Tomorrow night we'll settle it anyway. You're just a sook. You're a racist sook."



Just prior to the face-off to end the press conference, Hardman warned that the two fighters coming face-to face would be a bad idea.



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.



"Professional MMA is a hard sport," Hardman said. "He's (Zerafa) lucky he has got a real set [of gloves] tomorrow.



"I crossed over to boxing and I'm here now. 12-0. A place in the WBF and IBO [on the line].



"And after I smash this clown tomorrow, I'm going to get a world title and bring it back to Australia, just like 'Sugar' (Cherneka Johnson) is going to do.



"Training has been good. I was doing 10 rounds with Tim Tszyu before I was even in training camp. He's a man that that this (Zerafa) coward ran away from. It's going to show tomorrow.



"He's (Zerafa) sparring with super welterweights - I ain't no super welterweight. I'm a big middleweight, but I'll make the weight and I'll walk straight up to this man (Zerefa) and bounce my gloves off his head. That's it."



Zerafa responded by saying all the talk from Hardman doesn't faze him, and that his opponent was 'scared' and has 'no ability' in the ring.



"For me, it's just another day," he said. "I've got a tough guy (Hardman) in front of me, which I've had 34 times.



"This is going to set my life up. It's a world title opportunity. That's what I've put my whole life on the line for.



"Tomorrow the talk stops. He (Hardman) can say whatever he wants to say but at the end of the day it's skills that you get you over the line and he doesn't have that. I truly believe he is not even the best middleweight in his gym.



"For me, I've just got a job to do. Training camp has been smooth. I'm cool, calm and collected.



"He can talk - that's his way of trying to get under people's skin - it doesn't work. It just shows he is scared. He has got no ability - so I'm not really fussed at all."

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[Official@PPV] Michael Zerafa vs Issac Hardman Live Free online 20 april 2022
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