Marriage, fatherhood and now a new home.
Throw in a career-best win and it’s all coming up roses for SA cruiserweight champion Kevin Lerena.
The cheers are still ringing in his ears after his dramatic recent stoppage defeat of Johnny Muller, made sweeter by it avenging the only loss on his record.
The southpaw insists he is at a great place in his career with marriage and a new baby giving him greater stability and perspective. His life is now more routine than rabble-rousing and his focus is strictly on the fight game.
“There’s far more structure. Past years may have been different, but I’m now 100 percent focused. I realise what boxing can do for me and my family,” he said while busy moving house to Fourways on Monday.
Lerena says that the Muller fight made him work harder and the result proved the value of digging deep in training. It also showed that he is developing as a fighter. He knows that he’s far from the finished article and there’s plenty of room to keep growing.
Indeed, he rated himself only five out of 10 for the performance against Muller last month. He wants to be close to 10 out of 10 every time he fights and is determined to put in the hard yards to get there.
“The trouble was I went back to my old habits in that fight. The first five rounds I stuck to the game plan, but the next four I fell into old habits. I pulled it together in the 10th and did what I had to do, though. It was a big win for me, but I can do so much better. Johnny Muller is a very tough guy, so to get the stoppage felt good.”
Lerena’s next assignment will be confirmed at a press conference on Wednesday, but it is common knowledge he will be fighting Roberto Bolonti, one of the cruiserweight division’s gatekeepers, in the Golden Gloves Super Four event beginning at Emperors Palace on June 11. The Argentine is no mug, having been in with world champions Danny Green, Jean Pascal and Juergen Braehmer and top contenders Tony Bellew and Youri Kalenga.
He brings vast experience in his 42-bout career and Lerena will be hard-pressed to beat a man who has only ever been stopped once.
“He’s tough, has fought the best in the world,” says the flamboyant SA fighter. “For me, it’s back to the drawing board. Bolonti will be making a mistake if he thinks he’s fighting the Kevin Lerena he sees on YouTube. I’m making adjustments all the time. He’s the right sort of opponent as I move up a level. It’s all about going up and testing myself. I’m ready for the challenge. I’m confident I’ll beat anyone they put in front of me.”