Lerena cracks on – next stop Azerbaijan

Kevin Lerena boxing from a distance against Dmytro Kucher. Pic: Nick Lourens

It’s onward and upward for IBO cruiserweight champion Kevin Lerena after a successful maiden title defence on Saturday.

Having beaten Dmytro Kucher with a measured, confident performance, he will now take his show on the road with a fight in Azerbaijan against Roman Golovashchenko.

Promoter Rodney Berman is looking to push the southpaw hard and often, determined for him to break into the reckoning as one of the top three or four fighters in his weight before year’s end. ”I was very happy with Saturday night,” said Berman. “Kevin was up against a clever, crafty guy in Kucher, but he found a way to win. Kucher can punch, yet he was unable to put a dent in Kevin. It was a great learning experience for the youngster.”

Kevin Lerena undergoes surgery to repair his injured eyelid.

Berman also revealed that while a fight between stablemates DeeJay Kriel and Simpiwe Konkco has merit, it’s a road he will no longer be going down. He said doing so would put unfair pressure on the fighters and trainer Colin Nathan, who would be forced to choose a corner. Kriel, who beat Xolisa Magusha for a second time on Saturday, will be steered towards a major title shot and Konkco will be given a title defence at Emperors Palace in June.

Remarking on Thulani Mbenge, who looked a touch sluggish in overcoming Diego Cruz, Berman said that he now had a foothold in the WBC ratings and would be pushed as such. Notwithstanding Mbenge’s workmanlike – rather than dazzling – performance, Berman reckons he now rates among the division’s best prospects internationally.

Rowan Campbell, untroubled in his super-middleweight fight against Masixole Botile, will next find himself in a SA championship bid, most likely in June after Berman has secured the necessary signatures.

Thulani Mbenge on his way to a points win against Diego Cruz. Pic: Nick Lourens