Doctoral student boxer Gashi says he'll be too smart and fast for Kevin Lerena
PhD student-cum-pugilist Senad Gashi says he’s going to give Kevin Lerena a boxing lesson when they clash for the interim World Boxing Council (WBC) bridgerweight title on Saturday night.
The German displayed good humour at the pre-fight press conference at Emperors Palace on Tuesday afternoon, but the 33-year-old seemed serious when he claimed he possessed too much skill, speed and power for the South African.
The whispers doing the rounds among the local fisticuffs brigade was that the word coming out of Germany was that Lerena was in for an early night.
Gashi looked relaxed and confident at the press conference, and joked a couple times. Once when his trainer Sergei Ostrovski was asked how they expected to win, Gashi, who had to translate, quickly smiled and replied: “Should I answer for him?”
On another occasion WBC representative Dr Peter Ngatane, who was seated next to the boxer, was talking about how he supported both fighters but with extra favour going to Lerena, Gashi playfully leaned over pretending he was about to switch off the official’s microphone.
Kevin Lerena and his camp are quietly confident ahead of his clash with Senad Gashi in the Bridgerweight division.
When Gashi pointed that he had had 140 amateur fights, Lerena retaliated: “I didn’t have a single amateur fight so that shows you how good I am to be here.”
Lerena has 29 wins (14 by stoppage) and two defeats to Gashi’s 27 victories, 26 inside the distance and three losses.
Lerena was stopped by WBA heavyweight champion Daniel Dubois last year, while Gashi lost to contenders Derek Chisora and Carlos Takam.
“He’s a hard-working guy, you see his body, he’s like pumped, he doesn’t look like a boxer to me, to be honest,” Gashi told TimesLIVE, saying he had two bachelor degrees in sports science and economics as well as a masters.
“And you see that he worked a lot of gym, but he doesn't have a long amateur career, yeah. So he's built, but I’m made. That’s the difference.”
Gashi promised to toy with Lerena. “I'm gonna let him look like a beginner. I'm gonna play with him. I'm too fast for him, I'm too explosive … I have the power to hurt anybody. I'm dynamite.”
Gashi also got into some verbal sparring with Ngatane, who refuted the boxer’s assertion that Lerena would enjoy a hometown decision.
Ngatane tried explaining that the WBC was fair and that they had two neutral judges, a Nigerian and one from the Netherlands, but Gashi laughed him off.
“That is crazy,” he told TimesLIVE later. “I don’t know what he’s saying. You can tell this to some small children, but not to me.”
He believed Lerena had been given some decisions he shouldn’t have.
Officially, Lerena lost only one fight on home soil, a decision to Johnny Muller.
“For me, he lost already here a few fights in South Africa. But he was lucky that it was in his home, my opinion, he lost here like three, four fights already …
“I think it’s impossible [to win a decision in an opponent’s hometown]. It’s like a rule, you have to beat the champ at home, I have to knock him out,” added Gashi, who is now doing his PhD in sports science.
When it was pointed out to him that he was like the Klitschko brothers, he responded: “They bought it, I’m really doing it.”
The winner of Saturday’s fight will be elevated to full world champion status in the event that reigning champion Lukasz Rozanski of Poland fails to reach terms with challenger Badou Jack.
Also on the show is South African junior-middleweight champion Shervantaigh Koopman, who takes on Cristiano Ndombassy over eight rounds, and seven-fight prospect Kaine Fourie against Lusanda Kominisi, who boasts 27 wins and seven losses.
In terms of rounds Fourie has endured 27 to the former national and marginal world champion’s 160.
The tournament will be broadcast live on SuperSport on DStv channel 209 from 7pm.
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