August 1 2017 – SA cruiserweight Kevin Lerena says he is relieved to hear that Congolese-French boxer, Youri Kalenga, has been roped to face him, after another opponent, Nigerian Olanrewaju Durodola, pulled out of his agreement to replace Russian Max Maslov, who was first to withdraw from the scheduled IBO title fight, a few days ago.
The fight was to be at Emperor’s Palace on the Gauteng East Rand on August 12.
Lerena has a record of 18 wins and 1 defeat and is fast approaching his prime, having dispatched opponents including Johnny Muller, Roberto Bolonti and Micki Nielsen in recent years to put himself in major contention. He is rated second in his division by the World Boxing Organisation.
He yearns for the big fights and will presumably be satisfied that a highly-regarded fighter like Kalenga has been confirmed. Another win on Lerena’s ledger will propel him into bigger fights in the future.
Golden Gloves promoter, Rodney Berman believes that the difficulty in putting the fight together reflects the reality that Lerena has become an avoided fighter.
“We always underestimate our own and Lerena is a perfect case in point,” he says.
“Maslov was a highly respected fighter who pulled out with a lame excuse. And Vlasov, highly ranked by all the organisations, pulled out too, again with a pathetic reason and despite a top purse on the table.
“Durodola, perceived to be so dangerous, was another one. These are but three of many fighters who presumably perceive him as a threat.”
The fight card will include world-rated lightweight Xolisani Ndongeni, plus SA welterweight champion Thulani Mbenge and cruiserweight prospects Rowan Campbell and Chris Thompson. – ANA