Kevin Lerena: 'A true champ fights anywhere'

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
Image: Masi Losi

Great world boxing champions are defined by their will to fight anywhere.

That is the view of highly rated reigning IBO cruiserweight champion Kevin "Two Guns" Lerena, who jetted off to Germany in a buoyant mood on Friday ahead of the sixth defence of his belt against that country's veteran Firat Arslan next Saturday.

"A true champion is made through facing adversity and fighting away from home. It makes you a better man," said the champion, whose fight will take place at EWS Arena in Goppingen.

Lerena - who is rated at No 2 by the WBA and third by the IBF - fought three times here at home last year.

To some people the 27-year-old should be too strong and fresh for the 49-year-old veteran of 48 wins, eight losses and three draws. Arslan held the WBA belt from 2007 to 2008.

Arslan challenged for the WBO belt in 2014 and also challenged for the IBF strap, losing those fights. But the fact is he is a credible opponent who is currently rated No 2 by the WBA and No 3 by the IBF.

Lerena - who has 24 wins, 11 knockouts against a loss - warned: "You cannot take age into consideration in boxing. You take, for example, boxing legends like George Foreman and Bernard Hopkins, who boxed successfully until they were over 40. Firat is coming to win another world title but I won't let him win it."

He said his preparations had gone well and luckily he knows what to expect from Arslan.

"I know Firat personally; we were together in a training camp in Russia in 2016 before I fought Johnny Muller, so I know him well. I knew this was a fight that was going to happen, it was only a matter of when," he said.

"I had great sparring with Flo Simba, Isaac Chilemba, Keaton Gomes and Thabiso Mchunu, and I am ready. I have a tough job on my hands fighting in a different country and hostile territory but I am ready."

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