Eliminator Comes to Emperors Palace
Friday, March 24, 2023
by Lerena has eyes set on WBC bridgerweight world title
Great news for Kevin Lerena fans is that “The KO Kid” will be back in action on South African soil in May.
The big announcement was made by Golden Gloves at a press conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday afternoon (March 22) where it was revealed the Fourways IBO Cruiserweight world champion, from 2017 to 2021, will face Ryad Merhy in the headline bout of “The Eliminator” Box and Dine Tournament at Emperors Palace’s Centre Court on Saturday, May 13.
The fight is set to be a humdinger with both fighters having similar records. While the South African star has 30 professional fights under the belt, with 28 wins the Ivorian-born Merhy, who now resides in Belgian, boasts 32 fights with only one loss.
The two, who are both 30 years old, will face each other in an eliminator fight to see who will challenge the winner of the April 22 WBC Bridgerweight world title battle between Alen Babic and Lukasz Bozanski.
The May 13 bridgerweight fight comes in the wake of Lerena’s move up to the heavyweight ranks and his subsequent bout for the WBA Inter-Continental Heavyweight title against Romanian Bogdan Dinu in March last year, which he (Lerena) won with a fourth-round knockout to win his first heavyweight belt.
He followed that up in September 2022 with a unanimous points decision victory against Polish giant, Mariusz Wach to win the vacant IBO Inter-Continental heavyweight title.
Lerena then went on to challenge Daniel Dubois for the WBA (regular) heavyweight title in December on a bill headlined by Tyson Fury and Derek Chisora in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. Despite knocking Dubois down three times in the first round of their fight Lerena suffered a third-round technical knockout defeat to the much bigger Dubois putting a dent in his aspirations in the heavyweight ranks.
While disappointed with the result the Fourways boxer said he learnt a lot from the experience, will come back better, stronger and is looking forward to making his mark in the bridgerweight division.
A division promoter Rodney Berman believes is a better fit for Lerena and one in which he has high hopes the Fourways boxer will become a world champion in, in particular a WBC world champion. South Africa has only produced two WBC world champions in its history with Sugar Boy Malinga winning the super-middleweight title twice between 1996 and 1998 and Dingaan “The Rose of Soweto” Thobela winning the same title in 2000. All eyes will now be on “The KO Kid” in the coming months to see if he will make history by becoming SA’s third WBC champion.
Eliminator will also feature South African and African Boxing Union Heavyweight champion, Keaton Gomes of Linden defending his title against former SA heavyweight champ, Joshua Pretorius of Richards Bay.
Pictured below is Kevin Lerena (right), with his trainer, Peter Smith (left), also of Fourways and Emperors Palace’s General Manager, Clive Tavener (middle) of Greenstone. (Photograph by Yolanda van der Stoep)