Having both weighed within the requisite 101kg limit, Gashi tipped the scales at 99.5kg and Lerena bang on a 100.5kg, the two fighters were facing off for the cameras ahead of their WBC Interim Bridgerweight title fight on Saturday night.
But then an announcement that Lennox Lewis had just arrived shifted the attention off the main stage towards the door. And the Albanian-born German who has promised to make quick work of Lerena did not like it.
“It is not about Lewis, it is about us,” he said to Lerena before cajoling the camera people with his hands to focus on them “Let’s continue.”
When Lennox Lewis stole the show at the Saned Gashi-Kevina Lerena weigh-in pic.twitter.com/9Yve3SOa4c— IOL Sport (@IOLsport) November 25, 2023
Raining on their parade
Though he was right that Saturday’s Golden Gloves Promotions’ Double Down @ the Palace is about his scrap with Lerena, Gashi had to understand that such is the stature of Lewis that the was always going to rain on their parade.
Rodney Berman, the Golden Gloves boss, made it that much clearer when he addressed the gathering and opted to not speak much about the fight but rather shared tales of his relations with Lewis.
“We spoke about the fight at length on Tuesday,” he said in reference to the pre-fight medical media conference early in the week before sharing a story of how the late Nelson Mandela got him running around at the last minute to get tickets for his (Madiba) friends for a Lewis fight in London.
A smile flickered across Lewis’ face at the mention of Madiba’s name and he beamed as he spoke of how the former South African president inspired him to winning his heavyweight title back from Hasim Rahman after he’d lost it at the self same Emperor’s Palace.
“After my loss I went to see him and he said ‘oh Lennox you gotta use that jab and don’t worry you are gonna beat him next time’. And that’s what we talked about, the fight and he asked me about myself and my career,” Lewis – now spotting grey bread all over his face – explained as the cameras flashed away – Gashi and Lerena now peripheral observers of their own show.
“So I went and trained hard and we had that second fight and Hasim Rahman could not touch me, because a different guy (Lewis) came out. I put him down with a left-right (combination) and he could not get back up. If you watch that fight, you’ll see him down on the Don King logo,: he said to great laughs from the room “I was very happy about that. And I am very happy to be back here and I wish all the fighters good luck, especially Kevin – good luck.”
Lerena accepted the well wishes with a nod and was once again unmoved as Gashi boldly declared that ‘the ring girls will not have to work hard tomorrow night’, as he intends to finish the fight within the distance.
He expressed his appreciation for the crowd gathered in support of him and thanked Golden Gloves as well as the WBC for the fight which he described as ‘a dream for me’ before responding to Gashi.
“I am calm and cool like ice. Tomorrow night, we will see,” was all the Under Armour boxer would say and still he received a rapturous round of applause from the room, Lewis included.
Gashi did not like it at all.