By Francisco Salazar
One loss on a fighter's record is not the end of the world.
Just look at Miguel Berchelt, who stopped Francisco Vargas last Saturday night to claim a world title belt at 130 pounds.
Cruiserweight contender Kevin Lerena hopes that a similar path awaits him.
Lerena faces Vikapita Meroro tonight in a 10 round bout at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, South Africa.
The 24-year-old Lerena, who resides in nearby Johannesburg, has won his last five bouts in a row since a unanimous decision loss to countryman Johnny Muller in November of 2014.
In his last bout on October 22, Lerena (16-1, 8 KOs) won a 10 round majority decision over Micki Nielsen to win the Super 4 tournament.
Meroro (28-5, 14 KOs) has faced Isaac Chilemba, Juergen Braehmer, and Dmitry Kudryashov.
Lerena's recent accomplishments in the ring have not gone unnoticed. He is currently ranked number five by the WBO and is also ranked amongst the top 15 by the WBC and WBA.
Promoter Rodney Berman is making sure he is building Lerena's brand throughout South Africa. Tonight will mark the fifth consecutive time Lerena will fight at the Emperors Palace venue.
All but one of Lerena's pro bouts have taken place in South Africa.
"Kevin has stardom written all over him," said Berman, who heads Golden Gloves Promotions. "We've got big plans in 2017 for him. Putting him in the right fights, securing his position in the world rankings of the sanctioning bodies."
One goal for Lerena is secure a fight in the United States. Enter promoter Artie Pelullo.
"We are excited to be co-promoting Kevin with Rodney and Golden Gloves," said Pelullo, who is the president and CEO of Banner Promotions. "Kevin is a quality fighter, who has shown he has championship ability. We look forward to him getting closer to a world title opportunity with a big win on February 4."
Should he continue winning, Lerena could be lined up to fight for a world title belt by the end of 2017 or early next year. The opposition will likely be more difficult for Lerena with each passing fight, but he is confident he could pass each test convincingly.
Like most fighters abroad, landing a fight in the United States is what he is striving for.
"I can't wait for the New Year," said Lerena, who is trained by Peter Smith. "The path to a world title is in front of me. My promoter Rodney Berman is getting me the right fights and my world rankings will support a title shot in the future."
Lerena avenged his defeat to Muller on April 24, stopping him in the 10th round.
Also fighting on the card will be light flyweight contender Hekkie Budler. Also hailing from Johannesburg, Hudler (30-2, 9 KOs) will face Joey Canoy (12-2-1, 6 KOs) in a 12 round bout.
Light heavyweight Ryno Liebenberg (17-4, 12 KOs) will face Enrico Koelling (22-1, 6 KOs) in a 10 round bout. It will be a rematch of their October 1 clash where Koelling won by split decision.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing