By Ron Jackson
South Africa’s Kevin Lerena faces possibly the toughest bout of his career and will be extended when he meets Youri Kayembre Kalenga from the DRC for the vacant IBO cruiserweight belt at the Emperors Palace near Kempton Park on Saturday night. The fight will be shown live in South Africa on SS9 from 19:30 to 23:30.
The 25-year-old Lerena 18-1; 9 who fights out of the Smiths Boxing Gym in Sandton made his pro debut on November 30 2011 and has won the WBF Africa, WBC Youth and South African cruiserweight titles along the way.
The only loss on his record came against Johnny Muller on points over ten rounds in November 2014.
After capturing the South African cruiserweight title in his next fight on July 30 2015 against Deon Coetzee he went on to stop Muller in the tenth round in a return fight.
Since then he has not been extended in winning his last four fights against Roberto Bolonti, Micki Nielson, Vikapita Meroro and Sergio Ramirez.
The 29-year-old Kalenga who is based in Gravelines. Nord, France has been fighting as a pro for more than seven years and has victories over some quality fighters like Mateusz Masternek (32-1) for the interim WBA cruiserweight title, Denton Daley (12-0) and Roberto Bolonti (36-4).
His losses have been against Artur Kulikauskis (pts 10), Denis Lebedev (pts 12) for the WBA cruiserweight belt and Yunier Dorticos (tko 10).
The southpaw Lerena is listed at No. 14 and Kalenga No. 29 by the IBO.
It is interesting to note how the two fighters are rated by the four major organisations:
WBA – Lerena 11 and Kalenga 10.
WBC – Lerena 5 and Kalenga 17.
WBO – neither fighter is rated.
IBF – Lerena 3 and Kalenga not rated.
There are two interesting South African title fights on the undercard with Nkululeko Mhlongo 19-6; 15 defending his South African junior-middleweight title against Brandon Thysse 9-0; 8 and Thulani Mbenge 11-0; 10 defending his South African welterweight title against Mzoxolo Ndwayana 15-2-2; 10 (Boxrec).
Other bouts: Junior featherweight: 4 rounds; Monty Adams vs Mathlaila Alax; Cruiserweight: 4 rounds; Antonelle Maree vs Chris Thompson: Super-middleweight: 4 rounds; Benjamin Nhlabetse vs Rowan Cambell;
The tournament is presented by Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions.