Lerena, Merhy clash in WBC bridger eliminator

By Ron Jackson

South Africa’s Kevin Lerena meets Côte D’Ivoire born Ryad Merhy who fights out of Brussels, Belgium in a WBC bridgerweight title eliminator at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park on Saturday night.

The tournament will be shown live on Supersport.

The World Boxing Council is the only boxing organization that recognizes the bridgerweight division, with a limit of 224 pounds (101kg)

The WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman stated that today’s heavyweights are simply too big, making it unsafe for some of the smaller big men, so that is why they created the division in July 2020

The first world championship fight took place on 22 October 2021 between Oscar Rivas and Ryan Rozicki, with Rivas winning on a 12 round unanimous points decision.

The title is currently held by Lukasz Rozanski of Poland.


Since making his pro debut on 30 November 2011 the always superbly conditioned Lerena (28-2, 14 KOs), who fights from the southpaw stance, has won the WBF African, WBC Youth Silver, South African, IBO cruiserweight titles and the WBA Intercontinental heavyweight title.

In his most recent last fight on 3 December at the Tottenham Hotspur, Stadium in London against Daniel Dubois for the WBA secondary heavyweight title, he had his opponent down three times in the first round before being stopped in the third round. Fortunately for Dubois, there was no three-knockdown rule.

The South African who will celebrate his 31st birthday on 5 May has not picked an easy one for his return to action after coming off a stoppage loss.


Merhy, 30, has compiled a record of 31-1, 26 KOs, with an 81.25% knockout ratio since making his pro debut on 28 June 2013.

He won the WBA cruiserweight title on an eighth-round technical knockout against the capable Zhoaxin Zhang (10-1-1).and subsequently relinquished it.

His only loss came against Arsen Goulamirian (22-0) on 24 March 2018 in a clash for WBA interim cruiserweight title.

This is possibly the toughest opponent that Lerena has come against in his nearly 12-year career, but always superbly conditioned he will not go down fighting against the favoured Merhy and could surprise his critics.

In the current WBC Bridger weight ratings Merhy is listed at No. 2 and Lerena at No. 4.


On the undercard Keaton Gomes 9-2; 7 makes the first defence of his South African heavyweight title against the former champion, Joshua Pretorius 9-6; 5.

Welterweight – 6 rounds – Keanu Koopman v Peter DeKlerk.

Junior welterweight – 6 rounds – Ntethelelo Nkosi v Gift Bolo.

Junior bantamweight – 4 rounds – Ndabazinhle Ohiri v Miranda Malajika.

Junior flyweight – 4 rounds – Sandile Wessels v Beaven Sibanda.

The tournament is presented by Golden Gloves Promotions.

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  • Another excellent piece full of detail. The last thing boxing needs is another weight class, but there has to be some further protection for the fighters as guys get bigger and discrepancies prevail. The bridgerweight class will, in time, be adopted by the other sanctioning bodies and observers, and we should embrace it (albeit with initial caution). Let’s see whether a competent body of contenders can be established and take from there. The cruiserweight division is now here to stay after initial scepticism. Be brave to move forward.

    • Wonder if they’d consider moving the Cruiser limit back down to 190, or maybe 195 if Bridger sticks. FWIW, I’m not opposed to Bridger either.

  • This is the benefit of this weight class for me. Lerena – Mehry is a good fight on paper, just like Rozanski – Babic was and if those guys can’t (or don’t want to) cut down to cruiserweight, I’m fine with them fighting anywhere. Right now, it’s highly unlikely any of them will be able to make a significant impact at heavyweight (though certainly there are exceptions), so I’m fine with a fight like this anyway I can get it. Should be a good one.

  • This is truly an unnecessary weight class. Deontay Wilder was as low as 212 knocking down the current champion and pretty much everyone else out. Usyk has now handled Anthony Joshua twice and I think he’d be a pick em against Fury. Nevermind, guys like Holyfield and Tyson beating large Heavyweights. I know people thought Lennox Lewis deserved the Decision against Holyfield in their first fight, but there is a reason he chose to fight from distance and back away all night.

    Ultimately, Bridgerweight feels like a participation trophy for a guy who just isn’t good enough to be Heavyweight Champion or disciplined enough to get to 200.

    • Glad Mauricio cleared that up-I thought bridgerweight was created to add another title with sanctioning fees but he is much too honest to have done that.

  • Side note: after knocking Dubois down 3 times in the 1st, Lerena didn’t press him in the 2nd and got stopped in the 3rd. Does anyone else think the superbly conditioned Lerena gassed out after 1 round?

  • By far the biggest bullshit waste of time division in all of boxing

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