Cape Town — Kevin Lerena says it would be “definitely fitting” to have a rematch with Daniel Dubois, and feels that if he had been given time to recover from a knockdown, it could have been a different outcome in their WBA (regular) heavyweight title bout in London at the weekend.
The 30-year-old southpaw, who told IOL Sport in the build-up to the fight that he is the “Gutter Dog from Joburg”, stunned fans at ringside at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday when he dropped champion Dubois to the canvas in the first round.
But the tall British boxer found his feet in the second round, and then knocked out Lerena with a big right uppercut in the third.
Dubois went down three times in the first round, but was controversially allowed to recover in his corner after English referee Howard Foster called time at two minutes and 49 seconds — 11 seconds short of the required three minutes.
Part 1️⃣ of 4️⃣ … Views on my fight and time in the spotlight on the biggest stage in boxing 🥊 Full link interview to follow pic.twitter.com/5PyOnNFeoX— Kevin Lerena (@Kevlerenaboxing) December 6, 2022
“I landed him flush on the top of the head, which obviously sent shockwaves down his body, resulting in a twisted ankle or knee, or whatever it was. But let’s not forget that it was the punch that dropped him, or damaged his leg,” Lerena said in a YouTube video he posted on Twitter this week.
“He gets back up to his feet, unsure of what happened. I try to put pressure on him again, and he takes a knee. The ref counts him out again, and he gets back to his feet. I try to put pressure on him again to end him, he takes a knee — and it was at that moment that the round was ended at two minutes 49 seconds …
“That allowed Daniel to go back to his corner and recover. In his corner, he said to his trainer, ‘What happened?’ So, he obviously didn’t see the shot that landed him, and he was not compos mentis (having full control of your mind) as to what was happening, and why he was there?
“It was a missed opportunity on my behalf, and I do feel that we were hard done by the (early) ending of the round, because a lot can happen in 11 seconds.
Part 2️⃣ of 4️⃣ … Discussing my success in round 1 ⚡️also the unfortunate early end to the round which was at 2min49seconds without a 10 second “ clap “ countdown !! That was a major mistake by the BBBoC, mistakes which shouldn’t happen in such big fights 🥊 pic.twitter.com/rliOg7ScpY— Kevin Lerena (@Kevlerenaboxing) December 6, 2022
“Had I managed to get another flurry in on him, or land telling shots on him like I did when I dropped him, it could have been the end of the fight and a change to the result.
“These are questions I would always ask … But it is what it is, and we can’t harp on it. We’ve got to rest on our laurels and move on.”
Lerena’s promoter, Rodney Berman, tweeted in the aftermath of the bout that he will be lodging a complaint. “An objection will be lodged with the WBA & the British Boxing Board of Control. Lerena was very hard done by, by a biased ‘loyal referee’. Fighters cannot be allowed to be treated so unfairly,” Berman tweeted.
The former IBO cruiserweight champion felt that he should have been more aggressive in the second round, and wanted the referee to grant him an opportunity to shake off Dubois’ heavy shots in the third round too.
Part 3️⃣ of 4️⃣ … Round 3 - I got knocked down by a perfectly timed right hand by Daniel Dubois, I got up like a warrior to continue ! However referee Foster ended the fight at the end of the 3rd round without giving me time to recover 🤦♂️ In fights of this magnitude, 1 min is key pic.twitter.com/Ik3yHNO7xq— Kevin Lerena (@Kevlerenaboxing) December 6, 2022
“I think I should have put the pressure down and hammer down more in round two, so definitely a missed opportunity. But having said that, a hurt man is also a dangerous man, and you still need to be calculated — perhaps I was a little too risk averse, too calculated,” Lerena said.
“Daniel caught me with a perfect straight right hand down the middle in round three. I saw the punch coming, I felt the shock … I dropped to my a**, I got back up and I made the count.
“I knew where I was exactly, every single time … I knew the punch that dropped me, because I saw it coming. I got back up and I tried to recover by moving a bit. He then put pressure on me on the ropes, throwing a barrage of punches.
“I still came back myself, throwing three left hooks, and one of the hooks landed. He then caught me with a superb uppercut through the middle, and when he caught me, I felt it happening the whole time.
Part 4️⃣ of 4️⃣ … Thank you to my entire team ! I WILL BE BACK WITH A BANG 🥊 … Wishing all my supporters lots of love & happy holidays with your loved ones ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ruYng1y4RR— Kevin Lerena (@Kevlerenaboxing) December 6, 2022
“So, it wasn’t like I wasn’t there or didn’t know what was happening. I then heard the bell go for the end of the round, and that was it — it was over.
“I got hurt from being dropped, and I got rocked on the ropes … But I wasn’t down on my back. I honestly feel I should have been given the minute to recover, like Daniel was given a minute to recover.
“Obviously referee Howard Foster didn’t feel that way, but I believe in cases like this — in championship fights — you have to give the fighter the benefit of the doubt to recover.
“In the event of round four and I wasn’t recovered and I got caught again, fair enough, end the fight. But I think you’ve got to give that minute to recover, because that minute of recovery made the world of difference for Daniel. What could the minute of recovery done for me?”
But Lerena is keen to continue his journey in the heavyweight division. A win over Dubois may have secured a crack against even bigger names such as Anthony Joshua and Joe Joyce, with champions such as Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury – who beat Derek Chisora in the main bout in London at the weekend – on the horizon further down the line.
For now, though, Lerena is hoping to take aim at Dubois once more. “A rematch is very fitting, not just because I would like another crack at the WBA belt, but we both know that we possess the power to hurt one another,” Lerena said.
“I dropped him in round one, and he then took a knee twice after that due to the fact that he didn’t know where he was, and he wasn’t fully compos mentis (having full control of your mind).
“He put me on my a** in round three, and rocked me in round three, which shows that there was excitement in the fight while it lasted.
“I would love an opportunity for a rematch, but the most important thing is to settle the score. Daniel beat me, based on the fact that the ref jumped in and stopped the fight.
“No discredit to Daniel … I think there’s now a mutual respect between both of us. We both know we’ve got the stopping power to put it on one another, but I do think it was a very premature stoppage in the sense of, give the man the benefit of the doubt, and allow him to recover.
“But all in all, I had a great experience, and it was great to share the ring with Daniel. After the fight, there were no hard feelings. He said, ‘Man, what did you hit me with? You hit hard’, and I said to him ‘You hit equally as hard too!’.
“So, it was crazy and it was electric, and I do think I’d like to run it back.”