Johannesburg - Kevin “KO Kid” Lerena shows great skill in the ring as he boldly declares that this year will see him win a world title.
Lerena holds the SA and World Boxing Association (WBA) Pan African cruiserweight titles. But he wants to stamp his authority on the world boxing ring by lifting a global championship belt.
At the open-day public workout at his Smith’s Boxing Gym in Fourways, northern Johannesburg a few days ago, Lerena showed no mercy as he pounded his mentor, Peter Smith, with telling body blows during their sparring session.
The unusual slanging match, in the mould of those leading to big fights usually in the US, was held to show the public Lerena’s fitness levels ahead of his international cruiserweight 10-rounder against Namibian Vikapita The Beast Master Meroro at Emperors Palace on February 4. Also in attendance was Hekkie Budler, who will head the bill against Joey Canoy from the Philippines for the vacant International Boxing Organisation junior flyweight title.
But it was Lerena’s session that drew more attention. He showed exceptional skill as he cut across the ring during the sparring.
All my fights
The boxer, renowned for his movie star good looks, is so fired up that he believes he will defeat Meroro and pave the way to win all fights this year and lift a big title.
“This will be a great year for my career. I intend to win a world title, but I have to prove myself first against Meroro, who is a tough boxer. I have been working on my defence and am looking extremely fit,” said sweat-drenched Lerena.
There was much ululating among the crowd inside the gym when Lerena shook Smith with powerful body shots.
“This is what I’m going to do to Meroro,” said Lerena afterwards.
“Forget about my good looks; I can protect myself in the ring at all times. I’m going to win by knockout in all my fights and rule the world this year.”
The 24-year-old left-handed fighter has eight knockouts in 16 fights and the only blemish to his record was a points defeats over 10 rounds to Johnny The Hurricane Muller in 2014.
Lerena beat Muller on points at Emperors Palace in April last year, in so doing lifting the WBA Pan-African title.
Their fight has been nominated for Boxing SA Male Fight of the Year award. The awards will be staged jointly by Boxing South Africa, the department of sport and recreation and the SABC at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban on January 28.
“This was a good fight and it will be great if it wins the award,” said Lerena.
Meroro (32), who previously held the World Boxing Organisation African title, has not fought since May 2015.
. Meanwhile, Zolani Last Born Tete says he is waiting for the confirmation date for his World Boxing Organisation (WBO) bantamweight title elimination against Filipino Arthur Villanueva in the UK.
Tete was supposed to meet American Rau’shee Warren for the World Boxing Association super bantamweight title in the UK next month, but the champion pulled out of the negotiations.
“We have decided instead to take the WBO elimination route, which will give us an option to challenge Marlon Tapales, who is also from the Philippines, for the WBO championship,” said Tete, who spent the entire Christmas holidays in Johannesburg preparing for the fight.
“We are awaiting a date from our English promoter Frank Warren of Queensbury Promotions regarding the Villanueva match. The original date set for this match was January 28 but this was changed.”
Last Born emphasised that the fight against Villanueva, who holds the WBO Asia Pacific belt, meant a lot to him.
Tete put on a sterling show when he beat Mexican Victor Ruiz by a seventh-round technical knockout at Echo Arena in Liverpool last June.
Previously, he held the International Boxing Federation bantamweight division title
Tete’s manager, Mlandeli Tengimfene, said it would be ideal for his charge to focus on fighting for the WBO crown in future.
“We want him to focus on the Villanueva fight first and go for the title later,” said Tengimfene.
Previously, he held the IBF bantamweight division title.
Queensbury Promotions spokesperson Andy Ayling said details regarding Tete’s next fight would be announced on Monday.