WBA “world” cruiserweight champion Ryad Merhy, whom the sanctioning body elevated from interim champion after stripping Beibut Shumenov in January, is reportedly set to face #3 contender Kevin Lerena on July 17th. The date is set, and though the location isn’t official, organizers intend to stage it in the champion’s hometown of Brussels, Belgium.
He’d previously been ordered to face #2 Yuniel Dorticos.
Merhy (29-1, 24 KO) unsuccessfully challenged Arsen Goulamirian for the interim belt in 2018, falling via 11th-round stoppage. After putting together another four-fight streak, he got another shot at the title against unbeaten Hungarian Imre Szello, whom he stopped in seven. This will be his first fight since that October 2019 victory.
South Africa’s Lerena (26-1, 13 KO) hasn’t tasted defeat since a 2014 loss to Johnny Muller, which he avenged less than two years later. He sports victories over Youri Kalembri Kalenga and Dmytro Kucher, plus a recent stoppage of Patrick Ferguson in his Fight Pass debut.
Both men are also ranked at bridgerweight, but Oscar Rivas and Bryant Jennings are already set to duke it out for the inaugural title.