By Ron Jackson
Boxing from behind his right jab, South Africa’s Kevin Lerena retained the IBO cruiserweight belt with a hard-earned unanimous 12 rounds points decision over Dmytro Kucher from the Ukraine, at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park on Saturday night. Judges Eddie Pappoe (Ghana), and Jerome Lades (France) both scored it 119-109 and judge Olena Pobyvailo (Belgium) had it 117-111.
Even though the scores were wide in favor of the southpaw Lerena (90.20 kg) this was not a true reflection of the fight as a badly marked up champion had to work hard for his victory.
There was as very little action in the first round as both fighters were tentative with no scoring punches landed.
However, through rounds two to four Lerena picked up the pace scoring with stinging right and lefts to the head.
In the third round Lerena was cut over the right eye which was ruled a head-butt by referee Tony Nyangiwe of South Africa.
However, this was not a factor as the cut was well controlled by his corner.
Lerena’s nose was bloodied in the fourth round and bled throughout the fight which proved that the rather mechanical Kucher was scoring with his left jab even though they appeared to have little power from ringside.
The champion was in control through the first ten rounds but as he tired the taller Kucher came back to possibly shade the last two rounds.
Lerena improved his record to 20-1; 9 and Kucher’s record dropped to 24-3; 18.
All credit to Lerena for a fine performance, but Kucher who is listed at number sixteen by the IBO and was having his first fight since November 2016 proved to be a big disappointment.
MBENGE WINS WBC INTERNATIONAL TITLE
South Africa’s Thulani Mbenge (65.85 kg) won the vacant WBC International welterweight title when he out-scored Diego Cruz (69.25 kg) from Mexico over 12 rounds.
The scores were 119-109, and 118-110 twice.
However, I failed to score a round for Cruz.
In a poor fight Mbenge who is the South African welterweight champion made hard work of scoring a one-sided decision against a rather flabby Cruz who showed courage but was no more than a punch bag.
Weighing in at 2.57 kg over the agreed welterweight limit the Mexican was a poor advert for boxing.
KRIEL RETAINS WBC TITLE
In the best fight of the night Deejay Kriel (47.15 kg) retained his WBC International minimumweight title with a unanimous points decision over South African champion Xolisa Magusah (47.44 kg).
The scores were 118-112, 118-110 and 116-113.
Kriel made a slow start through the first three rounds but picked up the pace from round four and was in control through to the final round.
In the opening bout of the evening super-middleweight Rowan Campbell (75.75 kg) stopped Masixole Botile (75.75 kg) at 59 seconds into the second round of a scheduled six.
The tournament was presented by Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves Promotions.