Emperors Palace, Kempton Park, South Africa - In a battle for the IBO cruiserweight title, Kevin Lerena (20-1, 9 KOs) retained the belt for the first time with a twelve round unanimous decision over dangerous puncher Dmytro Kucher (24-3-1, 18 KOs). The scores were 119-109, 119-109 and 117-111.
Coming into this fight, Lerena is riding an eight fight win streak since getting shocked by Johnny Muller in November of 2014. Lerena picked up a tough split decision win over dangerous Youri Kalenga back in September and also avenged the Muller loss in 2016.
Kucher has been out of the ring since losing a twelve round decision to former world champion Marco Huck in November 2016. Earlier that same year he demolished and retired Enzo Maccarinelli.
Lerena's boxing skills were giving him the edge in the first half of the contest. He was controlling the pace, landing the better punches and making Kucher miss. Kucher was having some trouble dealing with the hand hand speed of Lerena, who was able to keep that jab out there and it was landing often.
In the second half, Lerena was fighting far more often on the back-foot as Kucher pressed forward and was working. He was never landing anything clean, as Lerena continued to outland him during exchanges and was working a very solid jab to keep the big puncher at bay.
Kucher found some good success with several combinations in the tenth round, but he wasn't able to continue that rally in the eleventh, as Lerena kept his composure and went back to his boxing, and Kucher was unable to make many adjustments to change the tide of the fight.
In the twelfth and final round, the two boxers were both trying to close very strong and each man had some success. Kucher's left eye was swelling up as they were trading on the inside for much of the three minutes to end the fight.