Boxing Snippets

Lerena v Kalenga: a neutral view

Kevin Lerena, here with Jeff Ellis and Rodney Berman. Pic: Nick Lourens

Everyone is entitled to their opinion on a boxing fight, but some of the nonsense spouted in the wake of Kevin Lerena’s win over Youri Kalenga last weekend was beyond the pale. Here, then, is the authoritative view of veteran Eric Armit, an internationally renowned historian, writer and boxing official from the UK.

Kevin Lerena wins the vacant IBO title with a split verdict over DRC fighter Kalenga with the decision proving controversial.

Lerena wisely made a cautious start against the big punching Kalenga. He used his southpaw jab well and threaded home some sharp jabs.

Kalenga was less controlled but landed some hefty body punches. Lerena worked his jab well and landed some nice counters. To be effective Kalenga needed to have Lerena trapped on the ropes because he was swinging wildly when at a distance. When he had Lerena on the ropes Kalenga opened up with both hands throwing hooks. It looked impressive but Lerena was doing a good job of blocking the punches and with Kalenga holding his hands low to throw hooks inevitably Lerena was scoring on an open target when he came off the ropes.

Kalenga was always dangerous so Lerena was constantly on the back foot. When he had Lerena on the ropes Kalenga had more success when he threw uppercuts inside but too often he was swinging hooks which Lerena found easy to block.

Lerena was cut over the left eye in a clash of heads in the third but it was never a factor. The South African scored with some quality counters in the fourth with a wild Kalenga missing with a big swing and falling to the canvas.

Kalenga had a huge edge in power and kept marching forward and throwing spectacular volleys of vicious body punches. Lerena worked more consistently probing with his jab and slotting home left counters. His movement had Kalenga swishing air in every round but he lacked the power to stop Kalenga rumbling in.

Despite those wild misses Kalenga stuck to his task and was focused on the body trying to slow the South African. The pattern never really changed as Kalenga could only fight one way and for Lerena to change his tactics and try to punch with Kalenga would have been stupid.

How you saw the fight in the end came down to whether you were more impressed by the bursts of eye-catching attacks of Kalenga or the measured more subtle and clever jabbing and accurate countering from Lerena.

For me, the South African chose and executed the correct tactics and was a worthy winner. Scores 116-113 and 115-113 for Lerena and 117-111 for Kalenga.

The 25-year-old from Johannesburg has reversed his sole loss which came against Johnny Muller and had won his last seven fights including an important victory over unbeaten Dane Miki Nielsen (22-0).

He was rated WBO 2/IBF 3(2)/WBC 5/WBA 11 so there are chances for another title there but meantime he is IBO champion and he will want to take some time to enjoy that.

Naturally, former WBA interim champion Kalenga thought he had won and a protest to the IBO is inevitable. He was 2-2 going into this one with losses to Denis Lebedev and Yunier Dorticos in WBA title fights so this was a big setback.

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