Part-time paramedic Kevin Lerena will take on a trained killer when he defends his IBO cruiserweight strap against Czech Vasil Ducar at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.
Ducar‚ who would be a strong contender for the most-polite-fighter-to-visit-SA award‚ if there was such a prize‚ is a police officer in the Czech Republic‚ working in the specialist rapid response unit. He has tackled crimes from murder to drugs‚ even coming under gunfire at times. The boxing ring is a safer place.
“Boxing is sport‚” he said with a smile‚ “and that [facing gun-toting criminals] is my job.”
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The approachable Ducar was happy doing media interviews‚ even delaying his lunch to do so. He is considered a huge underdog‚ with a professional boxing resume of just eight fights‚ with seven wins and a draw in his shot for the Czech cruiserweight title in 2018. Lerena is more experienced with 22 wins and a single loss.
In Ducar’s favour‚ Lerena’s record is identical to the one belonging to deposed world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua following his shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr at the weekend (if one believes in omens).
Perhaps more importantly‚ Ducar boasts a substantial amateur record‚ having had around 150 amateur boxing fights‚ of which he won 120. Lerena did not have an amateur career.
Ducar‚ who has also engaged in five mixed martial arts contests‚ said he was not surprised by the offer from Lerena’s promoter‚ Rodney Berman.
“I got [another] offer‚ I was waiting half a year for offer for IBF title from Russia and twice my opponent was injured. After that came the offer from SA so I take it and I’m so happy. This is my life‚ I want to travel to fights‚ get more experience.”
What does he know about Lerena? “He’s champion and a southpaw.”
Ducar‚ who fights out of the orthodox stance‚ is not worried. “We have a plan.”