Boxing Snippets

Double trouble as SA stars begin their move

Thabiso Mchunu and Kevin Lerena.

The World Boxing Super Series for cruiserweights is fast gaining traction with top fighters vying for their share of the $50-million prize pot.

Confirmed participants include three world champions and one former champion, all vying for the Muhammad Ali trophy. They are IBF champion Murat Gassiev (Russia), WBC belt holder Mairis Briedis (Latvia), WBA Interim champion Yunier Dorticos (Cuba) and former IBF and WBC champion Krzysztof Włodarczyk (Poland). Others are still to be confirmed.

No South Africans are in the mix, although Rodney Berman believes that one of the unintended consequences of the tournament will be opportunities for world class fighters Kevin Lerena and Thabiso Mchunu.

Although Berman harbours doubts about the viability of the event, questioning, for instance, whether the sanctioning bodies will sit back and allow mandatories to lapse, he reckons there could be positive spinoffs.

“They’ve pulled together some of the best, but the losers will fall in the pecking order. Lerena and Mchunu will be kept busy, hopefully winning, and they’ll leap frog in the rankings and boost their profiles.”

To this end, he is planning a cruiserweight blockbuster for October 21 featuring both South Africans; a move reminiscent of heavyweights Gerrie Coetzee and Kallie Knoetze building their international reputations three decades ago.

This is contingent mainly on Lerena beating Max Maslov for the IBO title in August, no sure thing given that Maslov is as rugged as they come. Berman will, of course, make it clear to Lerena that winning in August is non-negotiable.

Mchunu would fight Moldova’s unbeaten Constantin Bejenaru for the WBC International title, a potential shortcut back into the WBC rankings should Mchunu win.

The southpaw has fallen short in his two major battles, against Oleksandr Usyk and Junior Makabu, but he demonstrated excellent form against Johnny Muller recently. At his best, he could give any top-rated cruiserweight fits.

“I’m keeping a close eye on things, suffice to say that October will be a mega-show,” said Berman. “The sky is the limit for these guys, and they know it.”



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