Home News Aussie heavyweight Justis Huni survives last-round scare to beat feisty South African...

Aussie heavyweight Justis Huni survives last-round scare to beat feisty South African opponent in Saudi Arabia

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  •  Faced emotionally charged opponnnet
  • Was behind on points heading into last round  
  • Did enough to secure win on points 

Heavyweight hope Justis Huni has survived a last-round scare against an emotionally charged opponent before keeping his unbeaten record in tact with a points win in Saudi Arabia.

The 24-year-old Queenslander, taking on his biggest test yet on the undercard of the money-spinning Anthony Joshua-headed show in Riyadh on Friday (Saturday AEDT), found himself being hit with a barrage of blows in the 10th round of his contest with  a.

The 31-year-old South African had decided to go ahead with the fight despite having announced on the eve of the contest his mother had recently died.

After putting up a solid display but clearly going into the last round behind on points, Lerena had been urged by his corner to ‘do it for your mother’ and he responded to the exhortation by piling into a last-gasp attack on the unbeaten Australian.

But Huni managed to hold on, despite being seriously wobbled with one left hook, weathering the storm to deservedly land his ninth-straight victory with a unanimous points decision, being awarded the verdict 96-94, 96-94 and 98-92 on the judges’ cards.

Huni survived a scare to defeat Kevin Lerena in their WBO Global Heavyweight Title fight on the Knockout Chaos boxing card at the Kingdom Arena in Saudi Arabia

Huni survived a scare to defeat Kevin Lerena in their WBO Global Heavyweight Title fight on the Knockout Chaos boxing card at the Kingdom Arena in Saudi Arabia

The Australian fighter was in big trouble in the final round, with the South African having him on the ropes

The Australian fighter was in big trouble in the final round, with the South African having him on the ropes

The big Queenslander found another gear, though, and secured the victory on points

The big Queenslander found another gear, though, and secured the victory on points

 Huni was left relieved, saying in the ring afterwards: ‘I done all the hard work in the gym and I’m glad my legs were strong enough to stick it out.’

The former amateur star felt he had the measure of the former IBO cruiserweight world champion, controlling most of the exchanges throughout the contest until Lerena’s fiery last stand.

‘I was expecting him to be tough when I came out here, but it was just a matter of time until I adjusted to him,’ said Huni.

Promoter Eddie Hearn has ambitious plans for the Brisbane prospect and wasn’t overly concerned by the late scare.

‘He’s progressing well beyond his years and he wants to move quick,’ said Hearn.

‘I think sometimes a lot of the strengths and attributes he has is negated against a smaller guy like Lerena, so I’d like to see him in with a big heavyweight where he can use his speed and his movement a little bit more effectively.

‘But that was a massive learning fight for him. He was hurt badly in the 10th round but, luckily, was fit enough and strong enough to come through.

‘So he must improve against the better level of opposition and particularly the big boys, but I like the way he’s developing, and be sure that when the tests come nights like that will make him ready.’

Lerena, too, paid tribute to the Australian after his own traumatic week.

‘He’s a good competitor,’ said Lerena.

‘There’s no such thing as good timing when someone dies, emotionally it’s tough, but back to the drawing board.

‘When I had him hurt, I should have finished him but, kudos to him, he stayed up like a tough lion. He boxed better tonight, I probably had him hurt more, but he’s a tough competitor.’