Kevin Lerena earned the right to challenge for the WBC Bridgerweight world title thanks to a workmanlike performance and a unanimous points decision victory over a rugged Saned Gashi in their interim Bridgerweight title fight Saturday night.
And the man they call Two Guns immediately called on champion Lukasz Rozanski and his immediate challenger to get it on quickly so he can get into the ring with one of them.
“Badou Jack and Rozanski, get your act together because I wanna get it on,” he said to loud cheers during a post-fight television interview inside the ring.
“Rozanski and Badou Jack have to come to some sort of agreement and all I’m gonna do is keep winning.”
Poland’s Rozanski is the current champion and is mandated to defend against Jack with the WBC having given the two until February to get into the ring, failing which Lerena will be elevated to champion status.
Lerena showed championship quality on Saturday night against an opponent who did very little to match his cocky pre-fight talk with actions, the Albania-born Gashi hardly throwing any punches that threatened to deliver the knockout he’d promised.
Instead, he resorted to hugging and clinging whenever he got hit and often complained to the referee about imaginary punches to the back of his head.
Lerena was not perturbed, though, and kept at collecting the points, fighting from behind his occasionally effective right jab and landing heavy punches when the chances arose. He was a deserved winner by a mile, and it was shocking that the one judge saw the fight as a close affair with her 114-113 score while the others were spot on with to see it as a 118-109 and 117-110 bout.
Lerena said about the fight: “We can only make do with what is put in front of us. I was working hard to get a knockout, but Saned is a tough competitor. He said he was going to knock me out, but looks like he was the one doing all the kneeing and taking a seat. I was here to fight.”
Lerena’s trainer Peter Smith could not hide his delight.
“This feels incredible,” he said clutching on the famed green WBC belt that he also received as a winning trainer. “Kevin and I work hard every day.”
And they worked hard inside the packed Emperor’s Palcae Convention Centre for the six bout bill Golden Gloves Promotions’ Double Down @ The Palace event, so much so that they impressed former undisputed world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis who was the guest of honour.
“He (Kevin) did a great job, I loved the fight. He’s got a great jab and we are going develop that jab even better so watch out for the future. Saned is a tough opponent, he lasted and did not get knocked out. That’s what we like when we watch top fights.”
Lerena’s next top fight is sure to be a world championship bout and the man they call Two Guns is clearly chomping at the bit.