Kevin Lerena will lastly dip his foot into the heavyweight pool Saturday night time at Emperor’s Palace in Gauteng, South Africa, when he squares off in opposition to Bogdan Dinu over ten rounds.
It has been an extended and winding highway for Lerena simply to get again within the ring. In his final bout, again in December of 2020, he weighed simply over 200 kilos, stopping an overmatched Kevin Ferguson in 5 rounds. That bout came about on the WBC’s bridgerweight restrict of 224 kilos (a division not acknowledged by The Ring). He was scheduled to face Ryad Merhy in France at cruiserweight in 2021 however then broke his proper hand in coaching. The hand has since been surgically repaired and with rehab completed, Lerena is now able to go.
Making cruiserweight has develop into an excessive amount of of a slog for the South African who had usually needed to drop as a lot as 30 kilos throughout a coaching camp. Now he can simply think about preventing, relatively than making weight. Nonetheless, barely topping six ft, the muscular southpaw doesn’t have the body of a contemporary heavyweight and it is going to be fascinating to see if he can overcome the peak and attain disadvantages that he’s positive to have.
Dinu has a decent document (20-3 with 16 knockouts), however when he stepped up prior to now issues haven’t gone effectively for him. He was knocked out in 4 rounds by Jarrell Miller in 2018. He put up a spirited efficiency in opposition to one other contender, Kubrat Pulev, the next yr, bloodying the Bulgarian’s face. He was nonetheless even on two playing cards when Pulev obtained him out of there in seven rounds. After a few wins in opposition to journeyman opposition, Daniel Dubois as soon as once more turned his lights out in two rounds.
The underside line is that this: if you’ll make any waves within the glamour division, you have to beat Bogdan Dinu convincingly.
There might be no query that Lerena, who was ranked within the prime 5 at cruiserweight by The Ring for a very long time, has the a lot better pedigree, however his Romanian opponent is undoubtedly the larger man. Can Kevin Lerena take a heavyweight punch? Will he have sufficient firepower to make his greater opponent assume twice?
We’ll discover out.
The cardboard additionally options two regional title fights over 12 rounds.
One pits South African heavyweight champion Juan Roux (6-0, 2 KO) in opposition to Josh Pretorius (8-5, 5 KO). Roux, nicknamed “The Rhino” due to his hustle-and-bustle come ahead type, had a meteoric rise final yr when in a span of simply two weeks he knocked out the a lot greater Wilhelm Nebe in a single spherical after which, as a final minute substitute, upset undefeated Tian Fick in a 12 spherical struggle to develop into South African champion. It’s nonetheless early days although and we’ll see if Pretorius can present him a glance he hasn’t seen earlier than.
The opposite bout has 9-0 nationwide junior middleweight champion Shervantaigh Koopman defending a regional IBF belt in opposition to 6-1 Jami Webb. Koopman has been matched powerful to this point and has developed into considered one of South Africa’s prime prospects. Webb for his half dropped a break up determination in his final struggle to the very harmful and extra skilled Cristiano Ndombassey, so he can cling powerful and has some expertise of his personal. Whether or not that might be sufficient to derail Koopman’s momentum stays to be seen.
The undercard will function two six-rounders. Former cruiserweight, 6-2 Keaton Gomes will tackle 3-0 Shaun Potgieter in a heavyweight encounter and 4-0 middleweight Phikelani Khumalo might be trying to enhance his document in opposition to 8-5-1 Mbiya Kanku.
The cardboard is offered by Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions.