Kevin Lerena says he isn’t thinking of picking up one of Oleksandr Usyk’s world cruiserweight title belts.
The Ukrainian star owns the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO crowns, but with a move to heavyweight looming he’s expected to relinquish the whole set.
South African Lerena who defends his IBO world championship against Artur Mann in Johannesburg on Saturday (live on BoxNation) will be in the shake up to fight for a vacant title.
Lerena claimed the IBO strap with a split decision over Youri Kalenga in September 2017, before successfully defending his belt with unanimous points wins against Dmytro Kucher and Roman Golovashchenko.
Lerena, 26, insists he is leaving nothing to chance, and admits to waking up thinking about his unbeaten German opponent.
“I know everybody is talking about Oleksandr Usyk moving up to heavyweight, and what’s going to happen to his belts, but to be honest, I don’t really care" said Lerena.
"My only focus is this fight. I wake up and think of Artur Mann.
“I know I need to take care of business against him. He’s 15-0, he’s coming off a very credible record, and he has my full attention.
"This is a big fight for me. Yes, on paper, I've had big fights before; Kalenga, Kucher, Golovashchenko, Nielsen, but these are in the past, and I need to focus on what’s in front of me.
“I'm war ready! I know he's going to bring it, and I’m going to bring it too. I’ve never been a guy to cherry pick opponents.
“I want tough fights because I believe I elevate myself the harder the fight, and I enjoy the challenge."
Lerena-Mann is a co-promotion between Team Sauerland and South African promoter Rodney Berman.
Berman, who co-promoted Hasim Rahman’s shock win over Lennox Lewis in April 2001, said: "It’s common knowledge that Usyk is going to be moving up, so now every other cruiserweight is fighting for their place in the sun.
“Kevin will be the only remaining World Champion when he gives up the belts."