JOHANNESBURG – After being inactive since June last year IBO cruiserweight champion Kevin Lerena returns to action on March 16 at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park when he defends his belt against Patrick Ferguson from Spokane, Washington.
He last fought on June 2, 2018, in Baku when he retained the belt with a 12 round unanimous points decision over Roman Golovashchenko.
During 2018 the southpaw Lerena, 26, was bugged by injury and had to undergo a shoulder operation, and also reported alleged use of a banned substance.
He is back in the Smiths Gym in Cedar Square, Sandton and already working out for his fight against Ferguson, who is listed at No 45 in the latest IBO rankings.
As an amateur Ferguson 14-0-1; 11 won the US amateur heavyweight championship in 2015 and made his professional debut on April 8, 2016, with a second-round stoppage win over Billy Martin.
The 28-year-old Ferguson then went on to win his next ten fights inside the distance before fighting to a 12 round draw against Abraham Tabul in Accra, Ghana for the vacant WBO Africa cruiserweight title on January 6, 2018.
After this slight setback, he scored victories over Mario Munoz (12-4-1), Miguel Cubos (11-16), Panuve Helu (10-1-1) and Cubos (11-18) again.
This is a must win for Lerena who is ranked at a high No 5 by the WBC and with the possibility of Oleksandr Usyk relinquishing the WBC belt, he could be in line to challenge for the vacant WBC belt down the road.
However, the unknown Ferguson who has a knockout ratio of 73% could prove dangerous.
African News Agency (ANA)