By Ron Jackson
South Africa’s Kevin Lerena heads a seven bout bill scheduled for sixty rounds when he makes the third defense of his IBO cruiserweight belt against Artur Mann from Germany, on Saturday night at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park. The tournament will be shown live on SS8 from 7pm to 11pm.
The southpaw Lerena (21-1, 9 KOs) who has been fighting as a pro since November 2011 won the vacant IBO cruiserweight belt in September 2017 on a 12 round split decision against Youri Kayembre Kalenga (23-3-1) and has made successful defenses against Dmytro Kucher and Roman Golovashchenko, both on unanimous points decisions.
Mann, who has a record of 15-0, 8 KOs, was born in Aktjubinsk, Kazakhstan on October 11, 1990, but is now based in Hannover, Germany.
He is rated at #21 by the IBO and has fought in Germany for the last three plus years against mostly unknown opponents and has only been ten rounds on two occasions.
The only time he has fought through the championship distance of 12 rounds was when outpointed Alexander Peil (10-0) on a unanimous decision, in a clash for the vacant Global Union Intercontinental and WBO International cruiserweight titles in June 2018.
Lerena and Mann are not power punchers, but the champion should win on a hard-earned point’s decision unless the challenger is better than his record suggests.
Lerena is ranked at #11 by the WBA and #11 by the IBF, and Mann is listed at #30 by the WBC and at #10 by the IBF.
One of the best fighters pound-for-pound in the world, Oleksandr Usyk holds all four of the major organization belts.
The contest will be refereed by Jean Robert Laine from Monaco and the judges are, Eddie Pappoe of Ghana and Giulio Piras and Giustino Di Giovanni from Italy.
There are two other title fights on the card with Frank Rodrigues (5-1; 4) against Michael Markram (3-1: 2) for the vacant Gauteng light-heavyweight title and John Bopape (6-5; 6) in against Boyd Allen (2-0; 2) for the vacant WBA Pan African junior-middleweight title.
In the opening bout of the evening, Xhek Pascali (Germany) meets Alex Kabangu (DRC) in a light-heavyweight contest scheduled for four rounds and in an eight round junior-middleweight bout Thembelani Mhlanga faces Roarke Knapp.
Also on the bill is a six round welterweight contest between Timo Schwarzkopf (Germany) against Gift Bholo (South Africa).
The tournament is presented by Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions.