At the Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, South Africa, Kevin Lerena (29-2, 14 KOs) picked up a hard-fought twelve round unanimous decision over Ryad Merhy (31-2, 26 KOs) of Belgium to win the WBC bridgerweight silver title.
Lerena is now in line to challenge current WBC bridgerweight champion Lucasz Rozanski for the world title. Rozanksi recently captured the vacant title with a first round blow out of Alen Babic.
On Saturday night, the judges saw it 118-110, 115-113 and 116-112 for Lerena.
Lerena recovers after suffering a stoppage loss at the hands of heavyweight puncher Daniel Dubois back in December. In that bout, Lerena dropped Dubois three times in the first round. Dubois, who suffered a leg injury from the first knockdown, appeared to be on the verge of a stoppage loss, before dropping and stopping Lerena in the third.
Against Merhy, Lerena was cautious and started slow, but upped his workrate as the contest went on.
Merhy suffers his first career defeat since getting stopped by WBA cruiserweight champion Arsen Goulamirian in 2018. After that fight, Merhy built up a seven fight win streak. He made the move to bridgerweight/heavyweight back in October of last year, with a three round stay-busy knockout win.