The first local boxing extravaganza of 2017, “Thunder and Lightning” at Emperors Palace, will be launched in Johannesburg next week.
Man of the moment Kevin Lerena will headline the February 4 tournament against Namibia’s Vikapita Meroro, who has mixed with big names like Isaac Chilemba, Dmitry Kudryashov and Juergen Braehmer.
There will be big pressure on Lerena to produce the goods, especially as he upset the odds last time out to capture the Super Four title. What’s more, there is a possibility that the WBC Silver belt could be on the line, something promoter Rodney Berman will be negotiating at the WBC convention early next month. Lerena has nailed down a top 15 spot in the WBC and a top 10 place in the WBO, sure pointers that he’s aiming for the top.
Defeat would thus be catastrophic, notwithstanding he’s still young and learning.
Local favourite Hekkie Budler also returns to his stomping ground as he challenges Joey Canoy of the Philippines for the vacant IBO light-flyweight crown. Budler looked comfortable at the weight in dominating Siyabonga Siyo and will doubtless be aiming to take charge of the division before long.
Light-heavyweight contender Ryno Liebenberg will also feature, probably against an international opponent. Liebenberg is a popular staple at Emperors Palace on account of his rugged fighting style.
Berman was happy to let the cat out of the bag at this stage, saying he had been inundated with requests for details.
“I’m happy to confirm those three fights with the rest to be announced next week, suffice to say that it will be a high-class bill with something for everyone.”
He is also likely to feature two top youngsters, although results tomorrow night will dictate just who these fighters might be.