By Francisco Salazar
Welterweight contender Kerman Lejarraga is on the cusp of becoming one of the elite fighters in a very loaded and talented division.
He must make an impressive statement at the expense of Frankie Gavin Saturday night at the Bilbao Exhibition Center in Baracaldo, Spain.
The 12-round bout will air live on ESPN+ (3 pm ET/ 12 pm PT).
Lejarraga (26-0, 21 knockouts), who has become a popular sports figure throughout Spain, has displayed power in defeating modest opposition up to this point in his pro career. He has stopped 11 of his last 12 opponents.
Lejarraga‘s most notable victory occurred on Apr. 28 when he stopped Bradley Skeete in his hometown of Bilbao. In his last bout on Aug. 4, Lejarraga broke down gatekeeper Johnny Navarrete of Mexico, eventually stopping him in round six.
The 26-year-old Lejarraga is already ranked amongst the top 10 in three of boxing’s sanctioning bodies, including a number five ranking by the IBF.
Promoter Lou DiBella, who co-promotes Lejarraga with Spain’s Mgz Promotions, likens the hard-hitting Lejarraga to the late Arturo Gatti because of his aggressive, fan-friendly style.
“Kerman Lejarraga is already a superstar in his native Spain, but Saturday’s fight against Frankie Gavin on ESPN+ will be a great introduction for him to the American audience,” DiBella told BoxingScene.com. “I liken him to Arturo Gatti, which is the highest praise I can give if you know how much I loved Arturo.”
“Kerman has a tremendously pleasing style coupled with a colorful personality. After this fight, we’re planning to build him in the United States, where we believe he can become a huge attraction.”
Lejarraga has fought in the U.S. once before, stopping Jose Antonio Abreu in round two in Verona, New York on June 9 of last year.
Gavin (26-3, 15 KOs), who resides in Birmingham, England, has won his last three fights since losing by knockout to Sam Eggington in October of 2016. His most notable fight occurred when he faced then-IBF welterweight titleholder Kell Brook in May of 2015, losing by knockout in round six.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing