Kevin Lerena ‘gutted’ as his unification bout is called off

Injured SA star won’t face Merhy

Kevin Lerena beat Patrick Ferguson (USA) by TKO in the 5th round of this 10 round International Catchweight contest.
Kevin Lerena beat Patrick Ferguson (USA) by TKO in the 5th round of this 10 round International Catchweight contest.
Image: James B Gradidge

IBO cruiserweight boxing champion Kevin “Two Guns” Lerena says he is gutted that his unification bout with WBA holder Ryad Merhy is off.

It was to take place in Brussels on July 17. 

“I am absolutely gutted to say the least,” he said. “My IBO and WBA world title fight has been called off because I injured my hand in sparring on Tuesday and it requires immediate surgical intervention.”

He said he tried his best to continue, however the pain was too severe and an operation is the only route to fix his tendons and the bone in his hand.

“I’m devastated but this is professional sport,” said the left-hander who survived what could have been a fatal injury in January when the helicopter in which he was travelling crashed in Gauteng.

“I will be returning to SA as soon as possible in order to get surgical repairs done,” said Lerena, who was preparing for his fight in Namibia. “I want to extend my apologies to team Merhy and gratitude for being understanding. I know what an event this was going to be and I can assure everyone that once my hand has healed post-surgery, we will go to war.” 

Lerena, whose fruitful career is guided by trainer Peter Smith, thanked his promoters Rodney Berman and Lou DiBella and also extended his gratitude to his sponsors.

“The goal has not changed; the goalpost has merely moved. I guess it’s a sacrifice. I feel the pain now in order to have a sustainable future,” he said.

Lerena and the 27-year-old Merhy – who was born in Ivory Coast but is based in Belgium – were evenly matched. Lerena, 29, has been defeated once and has stopped 13 of his 26 victims while Merhy also has a single loss with 24 knockouts in 29 wins.

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