Kevin Lerena has a record of 21 wins (nine by knockout) and one loss, and has been fighting as a pro since November 2011. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – International Boxing Organisation (IBO) cruiserweight champion Kevin Lerena will be looking to retain his title when he takes on Germany’s Artur Mann at Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The SA southpaw Lerena has a record of 21 wins (nine by knockout) and one loss, and has been fighting as a pro since November 2011.

He won the vacant IBO cruiserweight belt in September 2017 on a 12-round split decision against Youri Kayembre Kalenga (23-3-1).

He has made successful defences against Dmytro Kucher and Roman Golovashchenko, both ending with unanimous points decisions.
Hanover, Germany-based Mann, 28, who was born in Aktjubinsk, Kazakhstan, has a record of 15-0.

He is rated at No 21 by the IBO, and has fought in Germany for the last three plus years against mostly unknown opponents. Mann has only been 10 rounds on two occasions.

The only time that Mann has fought through the championship distance of 12 rounds was when he outpointed Alexander Peil (10-0) in a unanimous decision, in a clash for the vacant Global Union Intercontinental and WBO International cruiserweight titles in June 2018.

Lerena and Mann are not power punchers, but the champion should win on a hard-earned points decision, unless the challenger is better than his record suggests.

Lerena is ranked at No 11 by the WBA and No 11 by the IBF, and Mann is listed at No 30 by the WBC and at No 10 by the IBF.

One of the best fighters pound-for-pound in the world, Oleksandr Usyk, holds all four of the major organisation belts, and is looking to move up a weight division, which will open doors for Lerena.

Frank Rodrigues (5-1; 4) will take on Michael Markram (3-1; 2) for the vacant Gauteng light-heavyweight title and John Bopape (6-5; 6) will face up to Boyd Allen (2-0; 2) for the vacant WBA Pan African junior-middleweight title.

In the opening bout of the evening on a packed undercard, Xhek Pascali (Germany) meets Alex Kabangu (DRC) in a light-heavyweight contest scheduled for four rounds, and in an eight-round junior-middleweight bout, Thembelani Mhlanga faces Roarke Knapp.

Also on the bill is a six-round welterweight contest between Timo Schwarzkopf (Germany) against Gift Bholo (South Africa).

African News Agency (ANA)