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Kevin Lerena gets unification shot - Promoter

FILE IMAGE: Boxer Kevin Lerena during the Emperors Palace, Supersport and GOLDEN Gloves announcement of the Supersport/Emperors Palace Three Tournament Festival of Boxing at Lucretia Room, Emperors Palace at June 11, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
FILE IMAGE: Boxer Kevin Lerena during the Emperors Palace, Supersport and GOLDEN Gloves announcement of the Supersport/Emperors Palace Three Tournament Festival of Boxing at Lucretia Room, Emperors Palace at June 11, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Kevin Lerena‚ holder of the marginal IBO cruiserweight crown‚ will take on WBA world champion Ryad Merhy in a unification contest in Brussels on July 17‚ promoter Rodney Berman announced on Wednesday.

Lerena has been waiting for a major opportunity after taking on unheralded and older boxers in what were termed keep-warm bouts the past few years.

Lerena‚ 29‚ has a record of 26 wins‚ 13 inside the distance‚ and one defeat‚ while Merhy is 29-1 (24 KOs).

But the Belgian’s record could flatter to deceive.

Lerena has been 12 rounds on five occasions‚ while Coite D’Ivoire-born Merhy has been the distance only once. The South African southpaw has fought a total of 176 rounds to Merhy’s 144.

They share no common opponents‚ but Merhy’s only defeat in 2018 came against unbeaten Frenchman Arsen Goulamirian‚ who holds the WBA’s super cruiserweight title. The WBA‚ one of the four mainstream sanctioning bodies‚ offers super world titles and regular world titles in each weight division.

Lerena has held the IBO belt since 2017‚ and Merhy took the WBA strap in his last outing in 2019.

Berman said the fight would be a co-promotion between his Golden Gloves company and 12 Rounds Promotion.

To date Simphiwe Vetyeka is the only South African to have won a unification bout‚ adding Chris John’s WBA title to his IBO belt in 2013. Brian Mitchell‚ however‚ was unlucky not to get the decision in the drawn WBA-IBF unification against Tony Lopez in 1991.​

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