SA boxer eager to make international debut

Cruiserweight bout: Kevin Lerena v Javier Corrales
Cruiserweight bout: Kevin Lerena v Javier Corrales

WORLD Boxing Council silver cruiserweight champion Kevin “KO Kid” Lerena is counting the days ahead of his international debut in Denmark.

The towering 23-year-old will face Ukrainian Igor “The Beast” Pylypenko on Saturday next week in a non-title bout that he hopes will introduce his name to a bigger audience in Europe.

“This is my first fight outside home and it feels good,” the infectiously excited South African fighter said yesterday. “I am excited and I am looking to do well overseas. I know if I do well, the sky is the limit.

“I always put on a good show no matter what. Within no time I will be a crowd favourite in Europe, just like here at home.”

The former WBF All Africa champion relinquished his title undefeated at the beginning of the year and has set his sights on expanding his horizons.

His promoter, Rodney Berman, said Sauerland Promotions, a German outfit, would stage the fight at the Ballerup Super Arena.

“This is the result of our recent negotiations with Sauerland Promotions,” Berman, who has set up a successful base in Monte Carlo and has acquired an English promoter’s licence, said.

“We agreed to an exchange deal that is mutually beneficial and European fighters will appear on our [Golden Gloves] show here in South Africa and local fighters will in turn travel to Europe.”

He said there was a huge appetite for cruiserweights in the mould of Lerena in Europe and the talented fighter ticked all the right boxes in that part of the world.

“Fighting a rugged guy [Pylypenko] away from home will test Kevin. These are the sort of names he needs on his record, guys who will give him experience. I’m sure he will give a good account of himself.”

Pylypenko, 41, is a regular journeyman who has only managed four wins against 19 losses and two draws.

But Lerena will be required to raise his game as he tasted defeat against Johnny “The Hurricane” Muller over 10 rounds at Emperors Palace in his last fight on November 15.

Lerena had been undefeated after 11 fights before Muller stopped him in his tracks.

Berman said there was no shame in Lerena losing to Muller, South African and WBC International silver light heavyweight champion.

“Kevin is still young and learning the ropes, but he needs to absorb those lessons,” Berman said of the left-hander, who is trained by Peter Smith.

-Bongani Magasela

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