South Africa’s Kevin Lerena is set to face Ryad Merhy in a World Boxing Council (WBC) bridgerweight title eliminator at Emperors Palace. The WBC created the bridgerweight division in July 2020, recognizing it as the only boxing organization to do so, with a maximum weight limit of 224 pounds. The president of the WBC, Mauricio Sulaiman, stated that the creation of the division was necessary as today’s heavyweights are too large, making it unsafe for smaller big men.
Lerena is a superbly conditioned fighter who has won several titles, including the WBF African, WBC Youth Silver, South African, IBO cruiserweight titles and the WBA Intercontinental heavyweight title. In his last fight against Daniel Dubois, he had Dubois down three times in the first round but was stopped in the third round. His upcoming fight against Merhy is arguably one of his toughest opponents yet.
Merhy has a record of 31-1, with an 81.25% knockout ratio, making him one of the most dangerous fighters in the division. He won the WBA cruiserweight title on an eighth-round technical knockout against Zhoaxin Zhang, a feat he later relinquished. Merhy’s only loss to date was against Arsen Goulamirian in 2018 for the WBA interim cruiserweight title. In the current WBC Bridger weight ratings, Merhy is listed at No. 2 and Lerena at No. 4, making their upcoming fight a highly anticipated clash.
The tournament at Emperors Palace will also feature an undercard with Keaton Gomes defending his South African heavyweight title against former champion Joshua Pretorius. There will also be fights in the welterweight, junior welterweight, junior bantamweight, and junior flyweight categories. Golden Gloves Promotions is presenting the tournament, which will be shown live on Supersport.