‘KO Kid’ nuts about his brand

Pretoria News - - SPORT - MATSHELANE MAMABOLO

WHILE the box­ing fra­ter­nity is pro­claim­ing him ready for a shot at a world ti­tle, Kevin Ler­ena says he’s not go­ing to rush into a cham­pi­onship bout.

“I first want to build my brand so that when I do fight for a world ti­tle, they don’t give me peanuts, for I won’t take peanuts.”

A boxer who knows what he’s all about? What a rar­ity in the lo­cal fisticuffs game?

Whereas many a boxer has al­lowed pro­mot­ers to dic­tate the way of their ca­reer, Ler­ena gives the im­pres­sion of a young man in con­trol of his own des­tiny.

“I’ve seen some box­ers ex­cit­edly rush into world ti­tle fights for pretty much noth­ing. But why fight so soon?

“Say I ac­cepted a ti­tle fight now and I get of­fered R100 000 and lose. What will I do then?

“But if I con­tinue to win like I’ve been win­ning and build my pro­file, I will be in a po­si­tion to ne­go­ti­ate what they pay me.

“You’ve got to be smart. Of course it is a sport but it is also busi­ness and that is how I am treat­ing it.”

No won­der, then, that Ler­ena men­tions the great Amer­i­can Floyd May­weather as his in­spi­ra­tion.

“Mike Tyson in­spired me due to his punch­ing power,” says the boxer nick­named “KO Kid”.

“But I ad­mire Floyd May­weather for his busi­ness acu­men. He took charge of his ca­reer and treated it like a busi­ness.”

Ler­ena, a former rugby player, is seen as lo­cal box­ing’s lat­est golden boy and his suc­cess in last year’s Su­per Four tour­na­ment gave rise to hopes that he will soon be a cham­pion.

At the Smiths Gym in Four­ways, Joburg, yes­ter­day – when con­tes­tants on Golden Gloves Pro­mo­tions’ (GGP) Fe­bru­ary 4 “Thun­der and Light­ning” tour­na­ment treated the me­dia and fans to a glimpse of what will be on of­fer at Em­per­ors Palace – GGP pub­li­cist Brian Mitchell couldn’t stop re­fer­ring to the prospect of Ler­ena be­ing a world cham­pion.

The former world champ him­self spoke as though Ler­ena could ac­tu­ally chal­lenge for a ti­tle as early as af­ter his fight against Namib­ian Vikapita Meroro.

Ler­ena, though, just wants to con­tinue amass­ing the wins and putting his name up in lights so that when he steps into the ring for a scrap for a world ti­tle, he will be a su­per­star.

And he sees Meroro as yet an­other step in that di­rec­tion.

“I am tak­ing it one fight at a time and yes, it is im­por­tant that I win against Meroro.

“He’s a very good fighter. I’ve watched him; he’s very durable and tena­cious. He took Isaac Chilemba the dis­tance, so I’ve got to be pa­tient in the fight,” said the boxer with an im­pres­sive record of 16-1 and eight KOs.

Also on the bill are Ryno Lieben­berg, who gets a chance to avenge the con­tro­ver­sial de­feat he suf­fered to Ger­man En­rico Koelling, and Hekkie Budler, who will be at­tempt­ing to lift a fourth world ti­tle when he takes on Filipino Joey Canoy.

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