Kevin Lerena is angry.
He might have won on Saturday night, but the nature of victory left him both frustrated and furious.
The outspoken cruiserweight thrives on fighting hard, but the manner of Vikapita Meroro’s tame fifth-round surrender at Emperors Palace had him wondering about the fighters’ code of honour – the one about going out on your shield, being knocked out or pulled out after fighting the good fight.
Great fighters like Mike Tyson, Arturo Gatti and Manny Pacquiao all demonstrated this quality, manfully taking their licks.
“I’d rather get knocked out than quit,” said Lerena yesterday. “I love hard fights; I never want to have easy fights. I was especially disappointed for my fans who paid a lot of money to watch, not to speak of those who saw me box on television.”
His victory was so comfortable that three days later Lerena was back in the gym.
He said he endorsed Rodney Berman’s decision to withhold Meroro’s purse in the aftermath. The world-rated fighter also said Meroro quitting had robbed him of producing a decisive win.
“As I didn’t really get going, I’d give myself six out of 10. The minute I dropped him in the first round, he went into defensive mode. When a guy comes to fight, I show my true ability. It frustrates me when they don’t . . . I like fighting, like when Johnny Muller and I got stuck in. We did expect more on Saturday, but what can you do?
“I was disappointed. No, I was angry. I wanted to beat him up. I started going to the body from round four. I was planning and building towards a conclusive finish.
“I’m lucky, I have a big following. The fans paid a lot of money to watch me and many tuned in to television, but they never got a full show because Meroro quit. People must understand, I’m coming to wreck my opponents. I’m not there for the pay day. I come to win.
“I trained hard, so it was underwhelming for the fight to finish the way it did. Now I’m just focused on what’s next. I’m hoping for a fight date in America, the sooner the better. I want a good fight and a good opponent. I love hard fights; I never want to have easy fights. I just want to win and look good doing so.”
Lerena’s profile is growing internationally and moves are afoot to ship him to the US in the next few months, thanks in the main to Golden Gloves’ partnership with Art Pelullo’s Banner Promotions.
This would be a major move for the southpaw, but one he embraces – he yearns for big moments and big fights.
With his attitude, the smart betting is with him.