Boxing Snippets

Lerena mauls his way to Super Four glory


An overjoyed Kevin Lerena celebrates his Super Four victory over a dejected Micki Nielsen of Denmark. All pics courtesy JAMES GRADIDGE of N-SQUARED

Kevin Lerena gate crashed the cruiserweight world rankings as he upset previously unbeaten Micki Nielsen to win the Super Four title at Emperors Palace on Saturday.

The South African started cautiously, but finished strongly to win a majority decision 96-95, 97-93, 95-95.

Aware of the power of Nielsen, who had broken Johnny Muller’s jaw in the first round of the tournament, Lerena adopted a safety-first gameplan of limiting their exchanges. He frequently tied Nielsen up and shut down his leverage. Late in the fight, he let his punches go more freely, roughing up the visitor and taking the fight away from him down the stretch.

Kevin Lerena bangs away at Micki Nielsen on the way to a career-best win.

It wasn’t always easy on the eye, but it was effective and illustrated Lerena’s ability to adapt his game plan to suit the conditions.

Lerena’s workrate was excellent and his fitness allowed him to survive exchanges that might have felled a lesser boxer.

The win was a high point in Lerena’s career trajectory and plans to have him make an assault on the top 10 have been confirmed. At just 24, he is one of the division’s brightest prospects after beating another top aspirant.

There was far better value in Hekkie Budler’s WBA Pan-African fight against local rival Siyabonga Siyo.

After his recent defeat, Budler was in supreme form as he romped to a unanimous points win: 118-110, 116-112, 116-112.

The former world champion was in control from the start, his right hand working a charm and his aggressive attitude paying rich dividends. Siyo was content to counter-punch, but this wasn’t enough against Budler who repeatedly punctured his leaky defence.

A relentless Hekkie Budler tears into Siyabnga Siyo.

Siyo was busy and ambitious, but he had no answer to Budler’s right hand and was rocked back on his heels time and again.

Budler’s fight management was outstanding. He set his stall out early and quickly worked Siyo out before breaking him down. Siyo enjoyed moments when his body punching was effective, but he had neither the power nor the sustained aggression to keep a wily campaigner like Budler off him.

Rounds in the bag, Budler eased off in the later rounds as Siyo came on strongly, but it wasn’t enough to derail a man determined to wear a world champion’s crown again. On this form, he’s a good bet to do so.

It was a happy homecoming for Chris van Heerden whose class proved altogether superior against Sacky Shikukutu in their WBA-Pan African clash.

The welterweights put on an entertaining scrap that demonstrated the value of good matchmaking. Van Heerden won a points decision – 117-111, 117-111, 118-110 – but it wasn’t before navigating a rocky few moments.

These came chiefly in the third when he copped a massive right hand and ate a stream of meaty uppercuts. Van Heerden’s defence was uncharacteristically leaky early on, but he tightened up and grew in confidence the longer the fight went.

Chris van Heerden and Sacky Shikukutu during their absorbing 12-rounder.

Although the Namibian started strongly and threw big punches, his snap had gone by the sixth and he became looser. Van Heerden’s fitness was a vital factor and he never relented in the face of a rugged challenger who came to fight but wasn’t equipped to hang tough with one of the division’s hard men.

Stung by criticism of his last showing against Nyelisani Thagamega, DeeJay Kriel responded as only the best fighters do: with a compelling performance.

The strawweight knocked his old tormentor out in the fifth, putting to bed once and for all the controversy that swirled after their first fight. The Kriel right hand was the difference this time. He landed it early and hurt Thagamega, who showed little relish for the rematch.

Kriel boxed with a certain swagger and there was no evident anxiety from him as he walked down his foe. Unlike last time, Thagamega couldn’t get his punches off and instead he had to do plenty of covering up to keep Kriel off him.

Kriel boxed smartly, outboxing his opponent and gradually breaking his resolve. By the fifth Thagamega was spent. He was put over early and then finally succumbed to a sickening body punch that put an end to his challenge.

Also on Saturday, junior-middleweight debutant Nathan Hammond won a third-round TKO over Zama Dludlu.












Related Articles

Back to top button