Senad Gashi is not leaving anything to chance in his challenge for Kevin Lerena’s WBC Bridgerweight title when the two square up in the main bout of Golden Gloves Promotions’ Double Down @ The Palace bill on Saturday night.
The German boxer, with an impressive 26 KOs from 35 fights, says he knows from experience that allowing fights to be decided by judges is risky business for a visiting fighter. Speaking during the pre-fight medical at Emperors Palace, Gashi promised to stop Lerena within the distance.
“It will be a fight without the decision points,” the 33-year-old said. “I know it is very hard to win away from home because we know that the judges usually favour the home fighter.”
Local boxing official Dr Peter Ngatane, who will be the fight supervisor on behalf of the WBC, interjected and tried to assure Gashi that there would be no favouritism.
“At the WBC, we play (a) fair game,” he said, while reiterating that none of the judges would be South African.
Gashi’s retort was swift: “My friend, I’ve been long in this game. Everybody knows that the home guy gets the points.”
Resplendent in a navy blue suit with a touch of red to go with the colour of his loafers, and a light blue collared shirt, Gashi was not immediately recognisable as a boxer. He could well have been one of the officials.
But he is a boxer and he made that much clear, proudly boasting that he has a great amateur record and that as a professional he is a knockout specialist.
“I have worked very hard and sparred with great guys and I have been in camp for this fight. I’ve fought many guys, I have over a hundred amateur fights.
“I fought many guys like Kevin. He is a powerhouse and a strong guy. Of course you can’t predict a fight, but I am a natural puncher and I am hundred percent sure I will win.”
Lerena’s camp laughed off Gashi’s bold assertion.
“There’s no way he’s walking away with the world title and no ways he’s getting a knockout,” said trainer Peter Smith. “We are the ones who will be doing the knocking out.”
According to Smith, the eight weeks Lerena spent in camp preparing for the fight will show on Saturday.
“It’s been a long road and an incredible camp. Keaton Gomes has been giving Kevin some great workouts and Chris Thompson, too. All that will show on Saturday.”
Lerena himself was pretty upbeat in anticipation of the fight that will see him becoming co-champion with Poland’s Lukasz Rozanski, should he win.
The fight against Rozanski, as instructed by the WBC, will take place by February at the earliest.
“To find sparring partners is hard, to find heavyweight sparring is even harder, and to find quality sparring is even harder than that. I commend (Gomes) for assisting me in the last eight weeks.
“Many have tried to dethrone me. Many have tried to beat me.
“When the bell goes, it’s just me and Gashi in the ring. I am very well prepared. I’ve been there, been on the big stage, fallen short on the big stage and I have learnt.
“I’ve dropped the man that they call the hardest puncher and I have been dropped and I am not scared to fight. When I hit you, you will know that you have been hit by me.”
Should both fighters live up to their words, it is clear the fight will not go the distance.