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Boxing

Lerena beats awkward Gashi to win WBC interim bridgerweight title

Kevin Lerena in action in an earlier fight at Emperors Palace.
Kevin Lerena in action in an earlier fight at Emperors Palace.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Kevin Lerena comfortably outboxed Germany-based Albanian Senad Gashi in a scrappy contest at Emperors Palace on Saturday night to claim the WBC’s interim bridgerweight title.

The judges scored this all-southpaw clash in favour of Lerena by margins of 114-113, 118-109 and 117-110. Lerena improved to 30 wins and two defeats while Gashi dropped to 27-4.

Lerena pressed the attack from the start, but his opponent was hell-bent on staying out of trouble, clinching frequently and appealing to the referee for alleged fouls, from low blows to rabbit punches.

Gashi frequently used his head in the clinches, though the Canadian referee didn’t pick them up.

Gashi came to survive, but Lerena turned up to win.

He landed the heavier and cleaner blows throughout.

The more the South African pressured his opponent, the more Gashi responded with every trick he could muster.

In the ninth round Lerena finally worked out a counter to the clinch, pushing back with his right forearm on Gashi’s throat and throwing a left hook to the head.

But it must be said that Gashi took Lerena’s blows well, though he looked drained at the end.

In the final 12th round he was docked a point for a low blow and given a count after hitting the deck, but he survived to the final bell. 

At ringside were former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and US agent Don Majesky.

Lerena is now guaranteed a crack at the winner between WBC bridgerweight champion Lucasz Rozanski and Badou Jack, though the two must still come to terms.

On the undercard, prospect Kaine Fourie proved to be too strong for veteran and former national lightweight champion Lusanda Komanisi, stopping him in the fourth round.

Fourie improved to 5-0-2 while Komanisi dropped to 27-8.

Unbeaten national junior-middleweight champion beat Cape Town-based Angolan Cristiano Ndombassy on points over eight rounds. 


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