Boxing Snippets

‘Two Guns’ looking to crash the party

Kevin Lerena in dominant form on Saturday. Pic: N-SQUARED

One overlooked fact in Kevin Lerena’s occupation of the IBO’s top spot is that he’s the lone non-East European among the division’s dreadnoughts.

This might seem to indicate he’s an outlier, but in beating Ukraine’s Roman Golovashchenko in Azerbaijan on Saturday, he’s sent out a warning that he’s undaunted by the terrors these fighters bring.

The two biggest names among the cruiserweights are Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk, holder of the WBC and WBO belts, and Russia’s Murat Gassiev, holder of the WBA and IBF championships.

The pair are slated to meet in the final of the World Boxing Super Series later this year.

Lerena is rated number eight by Ring magazine and ninth by Boxrec with the top six in Boxrec occupied by Usyk, Mairis Breidis (Latvia), Gassiev, Krzysztof Glowacki (Poland), Denis Lebedev and Maksim Vlasov, both of Russia.

Taking Lerena to Azerbaijan, which sits south of Russia, was a calculated bid by promoter Rodney Berman to expose Lerena to an Eastern European audience. He wants Lerena to mix with the top cruiserweights and doing so via Europe is the only way that makes sense.

Up to now, the Super Series has stimulated the division, but there will be a realignment later this year, not least because Usyk is expected to move up to heavyweight.

Fighters like Breidis, Yunier Dorticos and Glowacki will be looking to bounce back, while Lerena himself will rely on his youth – he’s far younger, at 26, than anyone else in the top 10 – and the certainty that he’s a fast-improving boxer who can take a crack.

He never got the knockout on Saturday, but his control and durability were never compromised. Although Golovashchenko had his moments, at no point did he look like winning back the advantage or hurting the popular South African.

Berman expects to sit down with Team Lerena this week to chart the remainder of 2018. There are no names on the table, but what’s indisputable is that Lerena belongs in any conversation of the world’s elite cruiserweights. And he’s willing to fight any of them to prove it.




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