The challengers Kevin ‘KO Kid’ Lerena (cruiserweight) and Grant ‘The Fireball’ Fourie (super-lightweight) produced performances that left no doubt in the minds of the judges who awarded unanimous decisions to both fighters. The 23-year-old Lerena, who holds the WBC Silver Youth cruiserweight belt, was easily the more convincing of the two new SA champs and at one stage towards the end of the bout there might have been a case for Coetzee’s corner to throw in the towel, such was the punishment he was subjected to.
Afterwards, Coetzee’s trainer Nick Durandt said that his charge was looking to weather the storm in the early rounds and look to take the initiative in the middle rounds, but they were surprised that Lerena was able to sustain the onslaught. Peter Smith, Lerena’s trainer, said his charge was well-conditioned and had the strategy to deal with whatever the champion could throw at him.
Southpaw Lerena’s points-verdict came after scores of 117-111 on two cards and 118-110 on the third. The new South African cruiserweight title champion now boasts a pro fight record of 12 wins (including 7 KOs) and one defeat.
The 29-year-old Coetzee, who was making the first defence of his title he won last October in Durban, now has five defeats on his 16-fight record. Seven of his 11 wins have been via the KO route. He took loads of punishment, enough for him to consider bringing his career to an end.
The new 29-year-old super-lightweight SA champ Fourie was not as dominant, but he surprised all and sundry since he has been out of action for a year. The Harold Volbrecht-trained Fourie decked the 34-year-old Joubert in the eighth round and came close to repeating the feat in the next round.
The first half was the scheduled 12-rounder was very even and would have made scoring a nightmare for the judges. However, as the second half of the contest wore on, Fourie imposed himself on the bout which technically was the best on the evening’s bill. Fourie won the decision via 117-111, 116-110 and 114-112 scores and improved his record to 16 wins (10 KOs), 7 defeats (2KOs) and a draw. He is the nephew of former SA light-heavyweight champion Pierre Fourie who fought for the WBA and WBC titles in the 70s without success.
Interestingly, Coetzee also boasts strong boxing ties as he is the nephew of Gerrie Coetzee, aka ‘Boksburg Bomber’, who won the WBA heavyweight title in September 1983.
The Colin Nathan-trained Joubert who won the SA title earlier in April, now has a record of 22 wins (11 KOs), 4 losses (2KOs) and 5 draws.