JOHANNESBURG – Ukraine's Dmytro Kucher has decided that preparation for his IBO Championship title fight against Kevin Lerena on March 3 will take place at high altitude in Johannesburg.
Kucher, who arrives in early February, a full month ahead of time, had intended to set up camp in Cape Town, only to discover that Joburg’s rarefied air would cause him problems come fight time.
He will train out of Harold Volbrecht’s gym and, what’s more, Liubov Abravitova, Ukraine’s ambassador to South Africa, will be picking up his full costs.
Expectations are thus massive on the former world title challenger, who has mixed in top company against Junior Makabu, Enzo Macarinelli and Marco Huck.
Kucher isn’t coming just for the payday. He wants to emulate countryman Oleksandr Usyk, the world premier cruiserweight, by snatching a version of the world title.
It helps, too, that he is training with Usyk, who himself is preparing for a major bout against Mairis Briedis later this month.
Meanwhile, an indication of the fight’s appeal is reflected in the TV sales with broadcasts purchased for multiple countries, including sub-Saharan Africa (via SuperSport), France, Turkey, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Serbia and Montenegro.
“These developments are very exciting,” said promoter Rodney Berman. “Firstly, Kucher isn’t coming for the payday – he’s coming to win, and Lerena knows this. And it’s gratifying to see the interest from international markets.
"This is the fight that will set Lerena on his way. He can’t afford to lose, especially with the division on fire.”