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Kerman Lejarraga ready for seventh British opponent in JJ Metcalf, and wants Liam Smith next

Kerman Lejarraga hosts yet another British foe on Friday in Spain, and has his sights set on a big fish in Liam Smith.

Kerman Lejarraga looks to take out another British fighter on Friday against JJ Metcalf
Kerman Lejarraga looks to take out another British fighter on Friday against JJ Metcalf
Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has been a contributor at Bad Left Hook since 2018.

Spanish junior middleweight contender Kerman Lejarraga is far from done in what is becoming a red-hot division.

The 30-year-old is unbeaten against fighters not named David Avanesyan and is looking to add JJ Metcalf’s name to a list of British fighters — Denton Vassell, Bradley Skeete, Frankie Gavin, Tyrone Nurse, Jez Smith and Jack Flatley — who he has previously beaten on home turf.

The former European champion at both 147 and 154 lbs has been “living like a monk” during his latest training camp, according to trainer Ibon Larrinaga, and Lejarraga’s right-hand man gave me an insight into their Las Vegas set-up over the course of the last two months.

“We’ve been made to feel at home,” Larrinaga explained. “It has been a beautiful experience for us out here, but of course it’s been hard to be away from our families. But even so, we have been able to concentrate 100 percent on our jobs and not get distracted by anything outside of boxing.

“Ismael Salas — who has been a key part of Lejarraga’s camp for Friday night’s fight — has made us feel at home inside his gym and has worked on many parts of Kerman’s game to find those small improvements. With our team being around other champions and such a successful gym, it’s sure to make a difference on fight night.

“Salas is a master of the art of boxing. We feel so privileged to be able to work with him for this fight.”

But what is it about British fighters that Lejarraga (34-2, 26 KO) finds so appealing? Metcalf (22-2, 14 KO) will be the seventh Briton that has travelled to Spain to try and beat the “Revolver,” with Tyrone Nurse coming the closest simply by hearing the final bell back in the summer of 2020.

“I don’t think the British and their style are particularly good for him, but since they are always tough and aggressive they have always motivated Kerman to arrive very prepared.”

So it’s not some vengeance against fighters from these Isles, but more chance and circumstance that Britons keep getting fed to Lejarraga, but Larrinaga is already targeting another if his charge is successful this weekend.

“We would love the Liam Smith fight next,” he explained. “We really like Smith as a fighter and he looks like he is reaching the top of his career at the moment.”

But Larrinaga is keen to stress that they aren’t overlooking the challenge of Metcalf this Friday night.

“Metcalf is going to come with everything.” he added. “He is a great rival that cannot be taken lightly. I expect a tough fight but one that we will know how to solve.

He’s a great professional, and despite two recent losses we know how dangerous he is”

Bad Left Hook will have live coverage for Lejarraga vs Metcalf on Friday, May 20, starting at 2 pm ET, with DAZN streaming the card.

Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK, and a member of the BWAA. Follow or contact him on Twitter @lewroyscribbles

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