Boxing Snippets

Late change as Lerena now meets Nigerian puncher

US-based Olanrewaju Durodola will now face Kevin Lerena at Emperors Palace on August 12.

A case of cold feet appears to have afflicted Max Maslov, who has withdrawn from his IBO title bout against Kevin Lerena – a day after receiving his air tickets to travel.

Promoter Rodney Berman has now drafted in big-punching Olanrewaju Durodola (25-4) of Nigeria for the August 12 championship fight at Emperors Palace.

“The Russians claimed their boxer had an old injury flare up, but I have my doubts,” said Berman. “At no point did they suggest anything was the matter until the very last. I’m very disappointed.”

It resulted in a mad scramble to secure a worthwhile – and fit – opponent. Fortunately, Duradola fits the bill, having scored a second-round knockout over Karama Nyilawila in Ghana at the weekend.

Kevin Lerena.

Durodola will be familiar to South Africans, having boxed Thabiso Mchunu, a stablemate of Lerena, in Atlantic City three years ago.

Two years ago he was responsible for one of the biggest upsets in the cruiserweight division in recent years when he crushed big-hitting Dmitry Kudryashov in Russia inside two rounds. The pair recently engaged in a brutal rematch with Kudryashov avenging the defeat.

With 23 KOs in 25 wins, the Nigerian is a formidable puncher and is rated number 10 by the WBC. Given that Durodola has mixed in top company, with Kudryashov, Mairis Briedis and Mchunu among his opponents, it would be a major scalp for Lerena to secure.

He’s 11 years younger, faster and is clearly a fighter on the rise. These are the sorts of challenges he needs to break into the international consciousness and become a threat to superstars like Oleksandr Usyk, Tony Bellew and Krzysztof Glowacki.

“These things are never ideal, but I’m satisfied we attracted a top-class opponent who will present a formidable challenge,” said Berman. “Durodola is a wily campaigner who has been in training camp and will be well prepared.”



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