Ryno Liebenberg takes another step into the great unknown this weekend when he fights Enrico Koelling in Germany. The always-keen light-heavyweight chats about his prospects.
How did you get your moniker ‘The Lion’?
When I was young I had long blond hair and the black guys in the gym used to call me ‘Tau’, which means ‘lion’ in an African language.
Last time you stepped into the ring you fought Erik Skoglund, a good friend of Koelling. Koelling also helped preparing Skoglund for this bout. How would you compare them to another and who would you rate the better boxer?
They have two completely different syles. Koelling is more polished, but Erik has smoother feet and hands. Koelling is more precise.
Is there an advantage for Koelling having studied you even before your fight was made?
I don’t think so. Once in the ring, everything changes because the opponents are different. Koelling is not Skoglund, it’s as simple as that.
What will be the key for you to beat Koelling?
I’m coming to fight. I must knock him out. I have to beat him in every aspect of boxing. He’s got the title; I have to rip it away.
Koelling trains non-stop for five months – are you also a gym rat like him?
No, I took time off after the Skoglund fight. But my conditioning and fitness is second to none. I train extremely hard. You’re making a mistake if you think my fitness is a weakness.
You’re taking him very seriously?
Yes. Very. He’s a top fighter with a very good pedigree. The difference is that he lost once – to a nobody. My losses were against the very best.
Do you think that Koelling is intimidated by your persona?
No. He’s been in the game long enough not to be intimidated by anyone.
Did you know that there is a place called Castle Liebenberg north of Berlin? Are your ancestors of German descent?
Yes, my ancestors are German! After I win I’m going to take the belt to the castle and have a great photo taken there.
When beating Koelling, what are you aiming for next?
I have to sit down with my manager, Colin Nathan. I’d like to fight for a world title. I may go down to super-middleweight, though. It could be an easier route to a title shot.
Is there any advantage as a boxer being a painter and decorator?
Ha, I’m gonna decorate Koelling’s face! I’m not a painter or a decorator – I own the place!