As much as being a jockey was in his blood, Kevin Lerena is glad he pursued a career in boxing.
The cruiserweight contender is eager to challenge for a world title belt in 2021, but will in action in a stay-busy fight against Patrick Ferguson Saturday night. The 10-round bout will take place at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, South Africa.
The fight will headline a six-bout card that will air live on SuperSport throughout South Africa and in the United States on UFC Fight Pass (12:15 p.m. ET/ 9:15 a.m. PT).
Lerena (25-1, 12 knockouts), who resides in nearby Johannesburg, last fought February 8 in Goeppingen, Germany, stopping First Arslan in round 6. The southpaw Lerena has displayed more power and aggression in recent fights, having stopped three of his last four opponents.
The 28-year-old is ranked No. 3 by the IBF and No. 2 by the WBA. According to promoter Rodney Berman, there is a likelihood one of the sanctioning bodies could enforce one of the world titleholders to face Lerena in 2021. Aside from putting together a successful career, Lerena is also an essential worker on the frontlines in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Kevin is something of an enigma, and coming from a famous horse-racing family (his cousin being a leading jockey in South Africa), he himself was earmarked to become a jockey having already in fact won an amateur race,” Berman told BoxingScene earlier this week. “During the day, Lerena is a paramedic who drives around saving lives – something of a breath of fresh air in the world of boxing.”
Lerena is trained by Peter Smith.
Ferguson (17-2-1, 13 KOs), who resides in Spokane, Washington, stopped journeyman Miguel Cubos in round 2 of his last bout on August 8. The 29-year-old has won his last three bouts after losing back-to-back bouts last year to Abraham Tabul of Ghana and Australia’s Benjamin Kelleher, respectively.
Welterweight prospect Jabulani Makhense of Pretoria will square off against Mardochee Kuvesa Katembo in a 10-round bout.
Makhense (10-0, 5 KOs) last fought on October 10, knocking out Eric Kapia in the opening round. It was Makhense’s first fight in over a year, when he defeated Marios Matamba by majority-decision in a clash of unbeaten fighters.
Both Lerena and Makhense are both co-promoted by Golden Gloves Promotions, which is run Berman, and Lou DiBella.
Katembo (13-3-1), who resides in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, lost by unanimous decision to welterweight prospect Thulani Mbenge on October 17.
Junior middleweight prospect Roarke Knapp (10-1-1, 8 KOs), a resident of the Johannesburg suburb of Edendale, will face Soweto’s Simon Dladla (6-0, 5 KOs) in a 10-round bout.
Unbeaten Akani Phuzi (11-0, 5 KOs) will square off against former fringe light heavyweight contender Johnny Muller (21-9-2, 14 KOs) in a 10-round cruiserweight bout.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene 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. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing