CANADIAN MMA star turned boxer Icho “The Bulldog” Larenas has stepped in to face Lucas Browne at The Melbourne Pavilion next Friday (August 14) following the withdrawal of Gonzalo Basile.
With Browne on the verge of a WBA world title shot, the fight is a potential banana skin and some would argue that Larenas presents a greater challenge than that posed by Basile.
The Quebec-born former UFC participant has won 15 of 18 fights since swapping the Octagon for the square ring and 14 of his opponents have failed to hear the final bell.
“Nothing has changed from my perspective. I’m ready to do a job, get back in the ring and get this guy out of there…The same as every fight,” Lucas, 22-0 (19 KOs), said.
“I’ve seen Larenas fight once or twice before in the UFC and on YouTube. He’s an aggressive guy who comes out fast and aggressive. It might be a short night if he keeps that game plan.
“I don’t like to leave it up to the judges. I’m the hardest hitting heavyweight in the world and I look forward to putting on a good show.”
Matt Clark, Browne’s manager, believes Basille’s withdrawal came due to “cold feet” rather than an injury, but he’s confident that his man will not be affected by the late notice change of opponent.
“Basile quite clearly thought twice about coming over here to face Browne,” he explained. “Everything was agreed by all parties but what can I say? He got cold feet, simple as that.
“Through the excellent work of Juan Pablo Manfredi, one of the best agents in boxing, we have secured an opponent for Lucas at such short notice.
“Clearly this isn’t an easy thing to do with Lucas being undefeated and probably the hardest puncher in the division. Not many guys like to put their hand up at short notice to potentially get their nose caved in.
“It is critical Lucas gets back in the ring and despite a change of opponent, he’s focused on his performance and nothing else. Larenas is built like a Sherman tank so Lucas will have to be careful early, shake off some rust and then break him down and get him out of there in spectacular fashion.”
He added: “Lucas remains as the mandatory challenger to the winner between Chagaev and Oquendo. That bout is due to take place in the next couple of months. We’ve also told Deontay Wilder’s team that we are open to offers to have Lucas challenge Deontay for his WBC title. The line must have been crackling with static because there’s been no reply!”
Next Friday’s bill will see Browne make the second defence of his WBA Intercontinental crown. The show is promoted by Brian Amatruda and will broadcast free to air across Australia on Channel 9.