Boxing Snippets

Lerena still leading the way as new life is breathed into the heavies

Lighter weight boxers might abound in South Africa, but the biggest name belongs to one of the biggest fighters in the shape of Kevin Lerena.
“He turns heads and he sells tickets,” says Rodney Berman, who has promoted the former cruiserweight champion since day one.
The popular boxer last fought in March, losing narrowly against Justis Huni in a heavyweight showdown. On the surface it was a bitter disappointment, but greater context is required: Lerena’s mum died on the eve of the bout and he fought through the anguish.
Lerena is ready to go again, but he understands the business, saying he needs a good win to reestablish himself as a heavyweight contender.
This may come soon enough. The UK’s Lawrence Okolie captured the WBC bridgerweight title recently and discreet enquiries have been made about accommodating Lerena in December.
However, boxing’s grapevine is also buzzing with rumours that Okolie may move up to heavyweight, which may give Lerena a shot at the vacant bridgerweight belt.
Berman, as ever, is keeping a close eye on the machinations.
As he is on several other movements among local heavyweights.
Once-beaten Juan Roux fights Chris Thompson at Emperors Palace on Saturday, the outcome of which may spur the promoter to invest in the Capetonian’s ambitions.
Ryno Liebenberg is also ready to unleash big and strong Jean Alberts, who will make his debut on a Golden Gloves show in August. Berman himself wants to see if the performance matches the hype. He hopes so.
Another fascinating development at heavyweight is Brian Mitchell’s talent search for SA’s next world class heavyweight.
Starting in August, the former world champion will host an amateur tournament at Potchefstroom University for youngsters keen on making their mark at heavyweight. He plans on embarking on a countrywide search for the next Kallie Knoetze or Corrie Sanders, more so aspirants who perhaps wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity.
“Many small towns don’t have boxing gyms, but they have big kids who maybe don’t play rugby for whatever reason. They will be welcome to attend the try-outs,” Mitchell explained.
All that’s required is a willingness to fight and decent size – 91kg upwards.
“If it’s a success, we’ll take these trials to places like Pretoria, Bloemfontein and elsewhere.”
No one reasonably expects the next Gerrie Coetzee to emerge in the coming months or even years, but finding a rough diamond to polish in the years to come would be both innovative and exciting.
“We’re looking for the next heavyweight prospect. There are big guys all over South Africa. Just imagine we discover the next star. Even if we don’t, we’ll have a lot of fun along the way.”


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