Kevin “Two Guns” Lerena knows it. The fans know it. And surely Dmytro Kucher knows it.
The IBO cruiserweight champion wants to make an explosive impact at Emperors Palace this weekend.
He sets high standards and, driven by the hunger to gain international renown, he knows the only way to make the boxing world sit up and take notice will be to do a big number on Kucher.
The Ukrainian has never been stopped and is a gnarled old pro who won’t be easily beaten. Lerena may be able to find his chin, but the visitor is canny and rugged. He will set traps and try and outwork and outhustle the champion much as Johnny Muller did a few years ago.
But Lerena is a much savvier fighter nowadays. He’s advanced ten-fold since Muller outsmarted him. His defence is tighter, his fight management is outstanding and his workrate is much improved. By his own admission, his finishing has required work. Too often, not least against Micki Nielsen and Youri Kalenga, he sensed weakness, only to back off.
He vows there will be no more of that. Lerena knows that at elite level such mistakes can be costly and might even puncture his dream of moving into the rarefied company of cruiserweight fighters like Oleksandr Osyk and Murat Gassiev, boxers he ultimately wants to measure himself against.
Kucher is exactly the type of opponent he needs to overcome as a calling card to the bigger names of the hot division.
Lerena also occupies an important place in SA boxing, as one of perhaps a handful of local fighters with real pulling power. The only way to sustain that status is to be explosive and colourful. He knows as much.
It’s difficult to get a reading on Kucher. He’s trained in obscurity in the Vaal Triangle and very little has leaked out on his form and readiness. But given his 27-fight experience, he is likely to be prepared for whatever Lerena might bring.
A fun, fascinating fight between two starkly contrasting styles looks to be in store.
In a major development, Box Nation, the popular PPV channel in the UK, will also be taking the action live, guaranteeing a massive television audience on Saturday.
SuperSport will also broadcast the action live on SS6 and SS9.
Before the main bout, there are three all-action fights to enjoy, with Thulani Mbenge’s WBC International welterweight fight against Diego Cruz looking like a compelling match-up.
Cruz is typical Mexican-style: strong on aggression and pressure, with the left hook the primary weapon. Mbenge has been largely unhindered since he turned pro three years ago, but those in the know reckon he will have all he can handle against the 24-year-old who packs a dangerous punch.
Also on the card, DeeJay Kriel will go over old ground against Xolisa Magusha, a much-improved fighter since their first encounter. This one also has WBC International status, an important factor for whomever has bigger designs on mainstream championships. Earlier reports that this would be an IBO eliminator were erroneous.
The action gets started at 7.30pm when Rowan Campbell continues his exciting super-middleweight journey with a testing six-rounder against Masixole Botile.