Kevin Lerena beats Kucher to retain his marginal IBO cruiserweight title

Kevin Lerena of SA (Black & Gold trunk) fighting Dmytro Kucher of Ukrain (Black trunk) in the IBO world cruser weight title during the Palace Pandemonium boxing event at Emporers Palace on March 03, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Kevin Lerena of SA (Black & Gold trunk) fighting Dmytro Kucher of Ukrain (Black trunk) in the IBO world cruser weight title during the Palace Pandemonium boxing event at Emporers Palace on March 03, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Gallo Images

Kevin Lerena convincingly beat Dmytro Kucher on points to retain his marginal IBO cruiserweight title at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.

Lerena‚ cut above the right eye by a clash of heads early on and then bleeding from the nose for much of the bout‚ was too quick and busy for his more experienced opponent.

The judges scored it 119-109‚ 119-109 and 117-111 for the South African‚ who improved to 22 wins (10 KOs) and one defeat.

Kucher‚ a former European champion who hadn’t been in action since late 2016‚ dropped to 24-3-1.

SA welterweight champion Tulz Mbenge easily outpointed Mexican Diego Cruz‚ whose flabby midriff suggested he was a professional pie-eater rather than a professional boxer.

Cruz didn’t bother coming close to the 66.68kg limit‚ weighing in at 69.25kg compared to the South African’s 65.85kg.

But he was able to soak up punishment for all 12 rounds‚ taking everything Mbenge could throw at him and landing a few useful shots of his own.

Mbenge may have won convincingly‚ but this wasn’t his finest performance. He started the fight by attacking the body‚ and hurt Cruz from time to time.

But he abandoned that strategy after a few rounds and instead tried sniping for the head.

It was suddenly clear that he couldn’t hurt Cruz going upstairs‚ yet he lacked the acumen to return to the body.

Still‚ he won the fight with the judges scoring it to him by 118-110‚ 118-110 and 119-109.

Mbenge also won the WBC International welterweight title and his record improved to 13-0 (10 KOs)‚ but his reputation wasn’t enhanced.

Dee-Jay Kriel took a hiding for the first four rounds being rallying to beat SA strawweight champion Xolisa Magusha over 12 rounds.

The judges scored it in his favour by margins of 118-110‚ 118-112 and 116-113‚ but those numbers don’t tell the story of how Kriel turned this fight around.

He was unable to close the gap against his taller southpaw opponent‚ who was busier and more aggressive.

But then Kriel started using his footwork‚ giving angles and beating Magusha to the punch in what was arguably the most entertaining fight of the night.

Rowan Campbell won by technical knockout when Masixole Botile quit after taking a heavy body blow in the second round.​

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