Unknown to all but boxing’s inner sanctum, Deon Coetzee and Kevin Lerena sparred two rounds a couple of months ago.
Word is that Coetzee tore into the cruiserweight prospect, who didn’t have a good time of things.
In three weeks’ time, the pair get to do it again – this time with Coetzee’s SA title on offer – in the headliner on the “Young Guns” tournament at Emperors Palace.
It’s a fantastic match-up: Lerena, boxing’s local pin-up boy, against Coetzee, a tough product of the East Rand’s mean streets.
Coetzee’s trainer Nick Durandt, who is never short of a word or six, believes it is a 55-45 fight – in Coetzee’s favour.
“Deon doesn’t look like a ripped gladiator. He’s tough, tough. Kevin looks the part, but will he fight the part? Deon is another Johnny [Muller], probably even tougher. He spars with Junior Makabu and Junior says he hits damn hard.”
Coetzee has worked with Durandt for 18 months. His two wins last year demonstrated a much improved fighter. Indeed, after an indifferent start to his career he has reeled off seven consecutive wins and he now wears his championship belt confidently.
“What you see is what you get,” added Durandt. “It will be very competitive, but we’re coming to win. We’ll be the worst nightmare the Smiths have had.”
Indeed, Durandt is fresh off engineering Makabu’s remarkable defeat of Thabiso Mchunu and remains one of the shrewdest cornermen in the business with an outstanding stable.
July 30, then, promises to be tense, compelling and explosive.