Johannesburg, October 9 – Former world title challengers Youri Kalenga and Roberto Bolonti will do battle in a cruiserweight 10-rounder on the undercard of the Monte Carlo “Night of Champions” tournament on November 7.
The card is topped by WBA light-heavyweight champion Juergen Braehmer’s title defence against Tommy Oosthuizen.
It will be Kalenga’s second fight in Monaco, having beaten fellow contender Mateusz Masternak in the principality last year.
Kalenga (21-2, 14 KOs) is fresh off a brave challenge for the WBA title against Denis Lebedev, pushing the Russian all the way in his Moscow back yard before dropping a decision.
Argentina’s Bolonti (36-4, 25 KOs) is a rugged campaigner who has moved up a division since a fruitful run at light-heavyweight where he fought big names like Jean Pascal, Braehmer and Tony Bellew.
In his first fight at cruiserweight, against former WBA light-heavyweight champion Danny Green in August, he proved a resilient foe, Green saying, “He’s a very hard, very tough man . . . he’s an ox.”
With just three defeats in the past nine years, all by decision, Bolonti is one of the toughest fighters around.
A former prison guard, “La Bestia” says he is trying to emulate countrymen Lucas Matthysse, Marcos Maidana and Sergio Martinez in becoming a world champion.
Nicknamed “El Toro” (“The Bull”) on account of his aggressive style, WBA number eight Kalenga is a fighter in the traditional sense, but against both Masternak and Lebedev he demonstrated useful skills as well, proving that he can box if he must.
His power is above average, as fans saw when he put Lebedev on the canvas in the fourth round of their fight six months ago.
Kalenga, of the Democratic Republic of Congo but based in France for the past five years, enjoys top sparring against the like of former heavyweight title challenger Johann Duhaupas and contender Carlos Takam.
“I’m thrilled to add this fight to the bill,” said promoter Rodney Berman. “Kalenga surprised me when he fought in Monte Carlo last time . . . I had no idea he was that accomplished. And I watched Bolonti’s last fight on tape. He looked very good against a tough guy in Danny Green. Both guys can punch, so I’m expecting a humdinger.”
Berman also revealed that Venezuelan Charlie Navarro’s welterweight fight against David Avanesyan (20-1-1, 10 KOs) of Russia had been elevated to WBA Interim title status. Navarro (25-7, 20 KOs) is ranked 11th and Avanesyan 12th by the WBA.