Kevin "Two Guns" Lerena can gun for boxing's bigger titles

Kevin Lerena lands a punch on Artur Mann, sending him to the canvas during his successful defence of his IBO cruiserweight title at Emperors Palace, on the East Rand. /Masi Losi
Kevin Lerena lands a punch on Artur Mann, sending him to the canvas during his successful defence of his IBO cruiserweight title at Emperors Palace, on the East Rand. /Masi Losi

Doors are opening wider for Kevin "Two Guns" Lerena, the IBO cruiserweight boxing champion, to fight for bigger and better world titles in the division such as the IBF and WBA belts.

Undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk, who holds all four major boxing belts - IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO - is moving up to the heavyweight division thereby creating opportunities for contenders such as Lerena.

The 32-year-old Ukrainian, who became the undisputed cruiserweight champion following his victory over Murat Gasiev in the final of the World Boxing Super Series in Russia, will make his debut in the heavyweight division against Carlos Takam next month.

That means all four title he currently holds will be vacant.

Lerena, who has been the IBO champion since 2017, is rated No 8 by the IBF and 11th by the WBA. The 26-year-old left-hander and WBA cruiserweight holder Beibut Shumanov, of Kazakhstan, are the only other world champions in the weight division.

Promoter Rodney Berman intends to begin engaging people in higher places regarding Lerena. But Lerena must keep winning.

His next fight is against Vasil Ducar from the Czech Republic at Emperors Palace on June 8.

Ducar, who is rated No 29 by the IBO, holds the WBF Intercontinental title and is undefeated after seven fights.

Lerena, a man of few words who lets his fists do the talking, said: "When the opportunity to unify titles comes ,I will be ready. I just take it fight by fight. Right now my mind is focused on my next fight and then once we get through Ducar, we will see what the future holds."

Trainer Peter Smith said he was excited with what is happening in the division.

"It is now in Kevin's favour and time to reveal that he will be the next undisputed champ in the near future. That will be our prime goal. Kevin's dedication and maturity in the game is at an all-time high. The timing is perfect in his career to become a household [name] in the cruiserweight division worldwide."

Lerena is still on a high after blowing away highly rated Ukraniaian Artur Mann in four rounds at Emperors Palace. That knockdown win was Lerena's 10th in 22 wins, against a single loss.

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