Kevin Lerena knows the role he is supposed to play in Daniel Dubois’ high-profile undercard appearance Saturday night.
The South African southpaw has plans of his own, however, for a fight against a heavily favored heavyweight Lerena feels has been disrespectful during the buildup toward their 12-rounder. Lerena has boxed mostly as a cruiserweight during his 11-year professional career, but he plans to show a crowd of 60,000-plus at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London that he, not Dubois, is the heavyweight worth watching.
“I don’t know Daniel Dubois from a bar of soap,” Lerena told Queensberry Promotions’ Dev Sahni during an interview posted to the YouTube channel for Frank Warren’s company. “He might be a very good man. At the end of the day, when you start talking about killing [opponents] and stuff like that, you’ve gotta be very careful. Boxing’s a dangerous sport already. And he’s got a family, I’ve got a family. We must go home to our families.
“This is sport. It’s a warrior’s sport. I’ve got on the plane and I’m here, so I’m here to fight. I’ve made it clear. My intentions are clear. I’m no steppingstone. I’m a stone that he’s gonna step on that’s gonna explode like dynamite. And he’s gonna realize, ‘What the f--- have I done?’ That’s what I’m here for. I’m not here to play games.”
The 25-year-old Dubois has won each of his three bouts by knockout since London’s Joe Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs) knocked him out in the 10th round of their fight in November 2020 at Church House in London. Dubois, also a London native, knocked out American Trevor Bryan (22-1, 15 KOs) in the fourth round to win the WBA’s secondary heavyweight title in his last fight, which took place June 11 in Miami.
Dubois (18-1, 17 KOs) is the youngest and seemingly most dangerous of the four heavyweights Lerena (28-1, 14 KOs) has agreed to fight since he moved up from the cruiserweight division. Oddsmakers mostly have listed Dubois as a 16-1 favorite, but the largely unknown Lerena will take a 17-fight winning streak into their bout and is the first left-handed opponent of Dubois’ five-year career.
Their 12-rounder will immediately precede Tyson Fury’s fight with Dereck Chisora for Fury’s WBC heavyweight title. BT Sport Box Office (6 p.m. GMT; £26.95) and ESPN+ (1 p.m. ET; 10 a.m. PT) will respectively televise and stream the card headlined by the third bout between Manchester’s Fury (32-0-1, 23 KOs) and London’s Chisora (33-12, 23 KOs).
“When I got offered the fight, I said yes,” said Lerena, the WBA’s 12th-ranked heavyweight contender. “I didn’t ask for how much. I said yes and I got on a plane and I’m here. At the end of the day, do I seem fazed by the bigger, stronger man? No, because [in] boxing the best must fight the best. I show respect to my opponents. I work hard for everything I’ve got. I’ve worked hard to get to this point. And there’s a little bit of disrespect from his side. Maybe that’s his way of dealing with things, and that’s OK. He said after the fact we’ll shake hands. This is boxing. This is sport. That’s his way of dealing with it, but I’m not fazed by that, to be fair.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.