Lerena unfazed by Congolese foe


Johannesburg - Kevin “KO Kid” Lerena is unperturbed by the credentials of Congolese Youri Kayembre Kalenga, the opponent he faces at Emperors Palace on Saturday.

They will collide for the vacant International Boxing Organisation (IBO) cruiserweight title.

Lerena will probably have the most difficult fight of his career as he will meet an experienced foe with a record that reflects an abundance of experience.

The form book suggests that Kalenga, who is based in France, will have an advantage over his opponent – he is the better puncher. Out of the 23 wins that he has posted in 26 professional bouts, 16 of them were by knockout, with only three losses.

This is a clear indication that Kalenga will be here to take Lerena out and be crowned IBO champion.

In the other corner, KO Kid is a novice – he’s won 18 times, with nine of his victories coming by way of a short route. He has been defeated once on his boxing run.

The 24-year-old Lerena will meet a man four years his senior, who has probably seen it all inside the ring.

But the South African is unmoved by Kalenga’s impressive CV.

“From the look of Kalenga’s record, he relies on a big right hook to win by knockout. I’m not scared of him,” said Lerena, who holds the World Boxing Association (WBA) Pan African and South African cruiserweight belts.

“Having seen Kalenga in two previous fights, he is a sluggish fighter who leaves himself exposed to a sucker punch. He may be more experienced, but I am going to outclass him,” said Lerena.

Two of Kalenga’s defeats were for world titles – a unanimous points decision loss to Denis Lebedev for the WBA cruiserweight in Moscow in April 2015, and a fifth-round stoppage suffered at the hands of Yunier Dorticos for the interim WBA crown in Paris in May last year.

Lerena, who fights from the southpaw stance, lost to Johnny Muller by a unanimous decision at Emperors Palace in 2014.

KO Kid’s last bout was when he beat Mexican Sergio Ramirez in a unanimous points decision at Emperors Palace in April.

The main bout on the undercard of the Golden Gloves bill will be the South African welterweight title match between champion Thulani Mbenge and challenger Mzoxolo Ndwayana.

In another national championship bout, Nkululeko Mhlongo will put his middleweight belt on the line against Brandon Thysse.

The rest of the bill will include Monty Adams vs Alex Matlaila (junior featherweight, four rounds); Benjamin Nhlabetse vs Rowan Campbell (super middleweight, four rounds); and Antonello Maree vs Chris Thompson (cruiserweight four rounds).

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