Lerena primed for tough bout against Dane Nielsen
There will be more at stake for both Mickie Nielsen and Kevin Lerena than the R1.4-million purse money when they collide in the main bout of Golden Gloves' Southpaw Showdown bill at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.
This became clear after speaking to the two left-handed gladiators yesterday at the pre-fight medical. The packed ceremony was conducted by Dr Steven Selepe at the venue for the fight on Saturday.
Nielsen, 23, the WBC International cruiserweight champion from Denmark, warned: "I haven't travelled this far and trained this hard to lose. If I win this tournament, I will have made my name more known in the boxing world, and it will prove I'm ready to challenge the very best.
"My goal is to become world champion. I want bigger names, bigger titles and more money. That's my plan,'' he said in reference of the
$100 000 prize money.
Nielsen's trainer, America's former two-time world champion Joey Gamache added: "There is no doubt that we will retain our undefeated slate of 22 fights. So, yes, we are here to win."
Nielsen is rated No 10 by the WBC, fourth by the IBF and fifth by the WBO, while Lerena is yet to convince world bodies' ratings committees.
"I trained very hard because Mickie is a terrific fighter. I know the task ahead of me. But I will conquer. I want to be a world champion, so this serves as the first step towards that direction," said Lerena.
The 24-year-old holds both the SA and WBA Pan African straps. He has 15 wins against one loss. His trainer, former heavyweight fighter, Peter Smith, said: "Kevin will win, it does not matter how."
Nielsen and Lerena beat Johnny Muller and Roberto Bolonti respectively in the semifinal of this showpiece in June. Promoter Rodney Berman reiterated yesterday that the winner will walk away with 60% of the actual purse money, as well as a specially designed belt.
Also at yesterday's weigh-in, former IBO and WBA Super mini flyweight holder Hekkie "Hexecutioner" Budler was within the required limit for the vacant interim WBA Pan African junior flyweight fight against Siyabonga Siyo who did his pre-fight medical back home in East London.
While Chris van Heerden was also within the required limit for the vacant WBA Pan African welterweight belt, his foe Namibian Sacky Shikukutu was a kilogram over. The official weigh-in will take place on Friday. Meanwhile, also on Saturday, Deejay Kriel and Nyelisani Thagammbega will meet in their eagerly-awaited rematch in a non-title mini flyweight bout following their first bout which was won by Kriel via a controversial stoppage in July.