I'll stop Kucher, Lerena vows
"I know he is gonna come at me, looking for a quick knockdown. That is where he is going to make his biggest mistake!"
IBO cruiserweight champion Kevin "Two Guns" Lerena made the bold prediction ahead of Saturday evening's defence against 16th-ranked challenger Dymtro Kucher of the Ukraine at Emperors Palace.
It is where Lerena won that title with a points decision against vastly experienced Congolese Youri Kayembre Kalenga on September 9 last year.
"He is going down," vowed Lerena, 25, a left-hander who left nine of his 19 victims counting stars. "He will go back home empty-handed. I have no doubt in my mind that I will stop Kucher."
Lerena is a one-man marketer, who has slotted perfectly into a world where social media and branding have become ubiquitous. His impressive skills are polished by former boxer Peter "The Sniper" Smith.
Lerena did not look impressive against Kalenga. He was too cautious and threw few punches. If he pressed the action he would have stopped Kalenga.
Even Smith concurs.
"Kevin should have eliminated that guy. But, hey, styles make fights. The beauty is that we won at the end of the day," he said.
Lerena is strong, well-balanced, awkward and has never been stopped. His loss to Johnny Muller on November 15 2014 was on points, but Lerena avenged that defeat with a 10th-round stoppage in 2016.
A former jockey with no amateur boxing experience, Lerena always respects his opponents, and Kucher is no exception.
"He is tough and has fought great guys but I have a game plan," said Lerena, who is ranked sixth by the WBC and eighth by the WBA, while the IBF has him in fourth spot.
Kucher, 34, has been in the fight game since 2009, with 18 knockouts in 24 wins against two losses. The only real title he has won, though, is the WBC International belt.
Kucher told Sunday World: "I would not be here if I did not think I will win this fight."
Saturday's tournament, dubbed Pandemonium, is staged by Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves.
Thulani Mbenge and Deejay Kriel feature in WBC International bouts.
Mbenge, the SA and ABU holder trained by Sean Smith, welcomes Mexican Diego Cruz for the welterweight title.
Colin Nathan-trained Kriel will defend his mini-flyweight belt against Xolisa Magusha.