Kevin Lerena heading towards world title shot in 2020, needs solid win over Firat Arslan
Cruiserweight contender Kevin Lerena has been patiently waiting for a world title fight and a statement victory over a former world titleholder could make that happen later this year.
The once-beaten Lerena will face Firat Arslan on Saturday at the EWS Arena in Goeppingen, Germany.
In his last bout on September 21, Lerena (24-1, 11 knockouts) stopped Sefer Seferi in Round 3 in Kempton Park, South Africa, not far from his hometown of Johannesburg. The 27-year-old has also scored victories over unbeaten fighters Artur Mann and Vasil Ducar.
Lerena, who is rated No. 5 by The Ring at 200 pounds, has not lost since suffering the only setback of his career at the hands of fellow South African Johnny Muller in November 2014. The popular southpaw avenged that loss in April 2016, stopping Muller in 10.
Promoter Rodney Berman is confident that Lerena can land a world title shot providing he takes care of this assignment.
“It may be a tune-up fight, but it is an important fight for Kevin,” Berman told The Ring over the phone in a recent interview. “He’s ranked in the top five in two of the sanctioning bodies. Hopefully something could line up for Kevin later this year.
Lerena, who is trained by Peter Smith, has enjoyed the comforts of fighting throughout South Africa for all but two of his pro fights. He will be facing Arslan in hostile territory as the 49-year-old was born in Friedberg, Germany and grew up in nearby Suessen.
Arslan (47-8-3, 32 KOs), who made his pro debut in January 1997, knocked out Sami Enbom in Round 3 of his last bout on September 14. He is unbeaten in his last 14 bouts since losing by split decision to then-IBF titleholder Yoan Pablo Hernandez in August 2014.
In the co-feature bout, Emre Cukur (14-0, 2 KOs) will square off against Italy’s Davide Faraci (14-0, 7 KOs) in an eight-round clash between unbeaten super middleweights in an eight-round bout.