How Kevin Lerena Is Recovering From His World Championship Fight
MH went behind the scenes with #TeamLerena for the toughest fight of his career on Saturday. We watched ringside as the 26-year-old from Johannesburg defended his IBO Cruiserweight World Championship Title. And Lerena did not disappoint, knocking out German Artur Mann in just four rounds.
“I feel good, all the preparation coming into one night, I feel really good. The hard work’s been done,” Lerena said. Lerena had just come back from his post-fight drug test. “Now I’ll take some time off and then back to the drawing board and see what’s next.” The atmosphere in the pro-boxer’s camp is electric, even at 1:30am.
“He was 15 [fights unbeaten], so most definitely probably the hardest fight I’ve had on paper,” he adds on being in the ring with 28-year-old Mann. He’s proud, and so are we; but the boxer is already thinking about recovery. “I’ll take a week off because I’ve got some business stuff to take care of. But back into the conditioning gym in probably 7 to 10 days time.”
Lerena’s already got his next fight in mind. “Maybe I’ll go to the gym on Monday to flush out – just to keep the body going – because the worst thing is to just stop. No one’s saying go mental – but just keep the blood flowing.”
It had been nine months since the boxer’s last fight, with Lerena undergoing a shoulder op last year. “All eyes were on me, I went through a lot of hard times during my shoulder operation,” he said. “Literally nine months since I last fought – it’s a long time, people have questions: how is he going to come back? Is he going to come back better? Is he going to be done? So that’s what was riding on this fight.”
“People have questions…Is he going to be done? So that’s what was riding on this fight.”
Taking care of his body is vital, and for recovery, he’s a strong believer in mobility training, ice baths and compression gear. “I’m a big fan of ice baths, I think heat-ice; it’s proven to work,” he says, with Lerena taking ice baths throughout his pre-fight training camp.
“But I love compression garments. Under Armour’s got a top range, I’ve got some of their stuff. “I literally wore that the whole day, I slept the whole week in like one pair of pyjamas,” he laughs. He’s also about to have a recovery shake, and notes he’ll see how he feels tomorrow – adrenaline slump and a few niggles are in order, he says.
And when boxing’s most glamorous flaunt their post-fight pay cheque, Kevin’s idea of celebration couldn’t be further from it. “Flashy is not for me, I’ve got real man stuff to take care of,” he says.
“Flashy is not for me, I’ve got real man stuff to take care of…my kids got to go through school man – so that’s where the money goes.”
“I’ve got a family so, I just want to be smart. I’m not a flashy guy, I’m quite under the radar. I run paramedic calls – I’m a paramedic. So, I just got a bond to pay, and I’ve got school fees to pay and that’s where my priorities are. I’m going to look to see where the best investment will be but right now, my kids got to go through school man – so that’s where the money goes.”
Lerena is rubbing his eyes, he’s tired, and as we close off he shares his true champion concerns, he wants to better boxing in South Africa.
“I’m a proud South African World Champion and I hope people get behind boxing as much as they should. Because besides all the glamour and that, boxing’s a great sport, a gentleman’s sport; you beat people up and shake hands afterwards.
As a country, we need to support the sport from the grassroots to see true growth, he says. “We could grow it more in South Africa. And when I say grow it, we can grow it from the grassroots, from the amateurs. Because that’s where it’s really bad. No disrespect to amateur boxing in South Africa but I believe the foundations are horrible and it could be better. Money could be put into the right places.”