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.