Kevin Lerena says beating Ryad Merhy will open doors to bigger fights
World rated cruiserweight Kevin Lerena will face Ryad Merhy in a scheduled 12-round contest in Brussels, Belgium, on July 17, it was announced last week.
Lerena, who is rated No. 5 by The Ring at 200-pounds, welcomes the opportunity to lock horns with his once-beaten opponent.
“It’s a great fight and a great name to beat,” Lerena (26-1, 13 knockouts) told The Ring. “I’m looking forward because when I beat this guy it will open up a lot of doors for us, as a team, in the world. He’s tough competitor.
“I want to make all my fights fan friendly, that’s why I go for it, I try my best to make it exciting and get a stoppage. I do want a fan-friendly fight because at the end of the day this is the entertainment business and that’s what the fans want.”
The recently 29-year-old southpaw acknowledges that Merhy (29-1, 24 KOs) is one of the best fighters he’s met so far.
“I would say on paper he’s right up there,” Lerena said. “There’s Youri Kalenga, there’s Dmytro Kucher, there’s Micki Nielsen, there’s a few names.”
Lerena appreciates fighting away from home will be difficult but he’s won three times in Europe previously, so he’s not without experience of fighting overseas.
“It’s going to be challenging,” he admitted. “Not being at home is always a challenge but I think a real champion can win anywhere in the world. It’s another fight, I know what I have to do win and I’m going to do it.”
Lerena’s promoter, Rodney Berman, of Golden Gloves, is pleased to have procured this opportunity for his fighter, having turned him professional without any amateur credentials.
“With a non-existent amateur background Lerena’s achievements are remarkable,” pointed out the veteran promoter. “We are confident that Merhy is going to be a good scalp on his record and that Lerena can do great things in this division.”
Merhy turned professional in 2013. The 28-year-old Ivory Coast-born fighter won his first 24 fights, mostly in his adoptive home of Belgium, before losing for the first time against Arsen Goulamirian in 11-rounds. He has since rebounded with five wins, including stopping previously unbeaten Imre Szello in seven-rounds, to claim the WBA Interim cruiserweight title, in is most recent fight in October 2019.
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