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Kevin Lerena loses via unanimous decision on Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou undercard – after South African took to the ring TWO days after his mother's death… and nearly secured stunning KO in the final round

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  • Kevin Lerena lost via unanimous decision to Australian heavyweight Justis Huni
  • The South African took to the ring just days after his mother passed away 
  • Lerena nearly scored a stunning KO in the final round after landing heavy shots 

South African heavyweight Kevin Lerena lost via unanimous decision on the Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou undercard – as he took to the ring just two days after his mother’s death. 

The 31-year-old took to the ring on Friday as one of the earlier bouts in Riyadh, as Joshua and Ngannou prepare to go toe-to-toe in a night dubbed ‘Knockout Chaos’.

However, despite an emphatic performance in the final round of the bout, Lerena was dealt a defeat by his Australian counter-part on the night. 

In the 10th round, Lerena had his opponent Justis Huni staggering around the ring after landing a number of heavy blows to his opponent.

Huini, 24, was clearly hurt from Lerena’s punches, as he wobbled backwards, but managed to see out the round before eventually claiming the decision win.  

South African heavyweight Kevin Lerena (R) lost via unanimous decision to Justis Huni (L)

South African heavyweight Kevin Lerena (R) lost via unanimous decision to Justis Huni (L)

Lerena clearly had his opponent rocked after an emphatic showing in the fight's final round

Lerena clearly had his opponent rocked after an emphatic showing in the fight’s final round

On Wednesday, Lerena took to social media to reveal to fans that his mother had passed away just days before the fight. 

He wrote on X: ‘Today I lost strongest woman I have ever known. My mom fought tirelessly as a single mom to raise us, and her strength and determination will forever inspire me.

Even in her final moments she fought until the very end, she fought with all her might. Mom, I love you. I will carry on your warrior spirit.

‘Tomorrow night, I WILL FIGHT in your honour because you were a LION and you raised a LION. 

‘Your fight lives on in me, and I will always carry your strength with me. Rest peacefully in God’s kingdom’.

Speaking to DAZN after the bout, Lerena then said: ‘Firstly, thank you to everybody for putting on this fight. There is no such thing as good timing when somebody dies. It is tough. But you can’t take anything away from this man. I had him hurt three times but now I am back to the drawing board. I could have finished him but kudos to him.

‘It has been challenging but no excuses. I was trying to finish him when he was on wobbly feet in the tenth. But that’s heavyweight boxing. He boxed better but I had him hurt more. Well done to Justis Huni but I would like to dedicate this performance to my Mum.’

The defeat was Lerena’s second in four bouts – having lost via KO to Daniel Dubois back in December 2022. 

Huni, meanwhile, revealed that he took the fight despite having ‘no idea’ what he is being paid in Saudi Arabia. 

Lerena took to social media on Wednesday to reveal the recent passing away of his mother

Lerena took to social media on Wednesday to reveal the recent passing away of his mother

Justis Huni triumphed via unanimous decision after a strong showing earlier in the fight

Justis Huni triumphed via unanimous decision after a strong showing earlier in the fight

He said: ‘I’m not worried about money for this one’. 

‘This fight is all about performing, getting eyeballs on me,’ he continued. ‘That’s why I’m not worried about the purse.

‘Because while I’m sure it will be good, I also know there are much bigger paydays coming if I do well. This opportunity, it’s massive for me.’

Huni is being considered as an option for the novel ‘5v5’ concept that will pit five of Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn’s men against five promoted by his long-time rival Frank Warren, of Queensberry Promotions.