EXCLUSIVE: Promoter Rodney Berman talks Kevin Lerena, WBSS and Usyk v Bellew
As the cruiserweight division continues to heat up after a successful WBSS season one, Kevin Lerena waits idly by with a shoulder injury, eager to be amongst the best in the weight class.
In an exclusive interview with WBN, promoter Rodney Berman gave his update on the IBO cruiserweight champion.
“He’ll come back in February. The sad thing with Lerena is sticking my neck out. I am virtually certain that if he were active, he would have been in the WBSS.”
The World Boxing Super Series announced its last weight class tournament as cruiserweight again. Continuing, Berman said: “That started the discussion with Kalle Sauerland, and Lerena is on the sidelines should there be an emergency.”
Coming from a family of jockeys, Lerena is a rare spectacle of the sport where his natural ability to fight comes into play. Berman delved into the story of how Lerena came into boxing.
“One thing I have to tell which is hard to appreciate. Lerena’s family are all jockeys. His first cousin, Gavin Lerena, is a South African jockey. He’s the leading jockey in South Africa. He’s won the jockey championship like twice.”
“He has another first cousin in Durban; Brendan Lerena, who’s also a jockey, and a third cousin, a youngster who’s also just served his apprenticeship to become a jockey.
“Kevin started as a jockey and as an amateur won one or two races riding horses. Suddenly, from nowhere, he shot up and became a cruiserweight, which is unheard of.
“He now has a record of 21-1, but the beauty of Kevin Lerena is he never in his life had an amateur fight, no amateur background whatsoever.”
Entering the professional ranks without amateur experience is often considered dangerous, and commonly these people gain the name journeyman. Lerena has proven himself to stand out from the crowd and shows a promising future.
“When you put into perspective what he’s done in the short time, it’s mind-boggling. In the cruiserweight division, what he’s resolved, I can promise you’re gonna hear a hell of a lot more from him in the future.”
The current state of the cruiserweight division is at a peak where Oleksandr Usyk holds the other four belts and is the first to do so. Usyk looks set to face Tony Bellew, the former WBC cruiserweight champion and two-time Haye conqueror.
Berman previously stated that he plans the winner of Oosthuizen vs. Mchunu 2 to face Lerena in June. When asked about these three crossing paths and if facing the Usyk vs. Bellew winner is a possibility, Berman replied by saying: “Usyk and Bellew are both special fighters. It could depend on them. I think what is important for me is the exposure which this fight got.
“Being on BoxNation in England, a lot of people saw the fight, and they saw the calibre of these two fighters that will now be benefitted in seeing the rematch, so sure if that were offered, I would jump for it.”
Usyk recently signed a deal with Matchroom. The move should make the fight with Bellew easier and suggest a good future for the undisputed cruiserweight champion.
A fight against Anthony Joshua could be the end goal.
To conclude, Berman gave his prediction on the huge Usyk vs. Bellew fight.
“I think Usyk is going to finish being a special talent and move up to heavyweight. From what I’ve seen, I think Usyk is going to be too strong for Bellew.
“I think there could be a stoppage in the later rounds, probably,” he said.
Chandler Waller is a staff writer for World Boxing News. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerWaller.