South Africa’s Kevin Lerena ready to light up Riyadh against rookie Justis Huni

South Africa’s Kevin Lerena ready to light up Riyadh against rookie Justis Huni
Justis Huni (left) and Kevin Lerena (right) at the weigh-in ahead of their 'Knockout Chaos' heavyweight fight on 7 March, 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Richard Pelham /Getty Images)

Kevin Lerena will face off against Australia’s Justis Huni in Saudi Arabia this evening in a heavyweight bout.

South Africa’s Kevin Lerena (32-30-2) takes on Australia’s Justis Huni (8-0) in a 10-round bout in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia this weekend. It’s an undercard fight where the main show is what is expected to be an epic bout between Anthony Joshua and former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) star Francis Ngannou.

Lerena will enter the ring in Riyadh in good form, having conquered Germany’s Senad Gashi in a points decision victory in Kempton Park in November last year.

That victory meant the South African left Emperors Palace with the World Boxing Council (WBC) interim bridgerweight title in hand. This time, however, Lerena will be fighting in the heavyweight division against a full-time heavyweight opponent.

Kevin Lerena

Kevin Lerena as he weighs in ahead of his heavyweight fight against Justis Huni. (Photo: Richard Pelham/Getty Images)

Huni, at 24 years old is seven years Lerena’s junior and while he lacks experience — having only fought eight professional fights — he does have the size and strength advantage over Lerena.

The southpaw South African, however, believes his preparation and training for the bout will be enough to see him victorious.

“The only way [Huni] can defeat me is if he proves superior on the day, in the ring,” said Lerena.

“There is no doubt in my mind that I have invested the time, effort and training required to emerge victorious. It all boils down to the 10 rounds and the two men who step into that ring, and I am ready for battle.”

In preparation for the fight, Lerena has been training with WBC heavyweight title holder and British boxing legend Tyson Fury, sharing sparring sessions with the boxer in Saudi Arabia.

“As I prepare for the fight, one crucial aspect of my training regimen that I’ve dedicated myself to perfecting is enhancing my mobility and explosiveness, ensuring I’m primed to seize every opportunity in the ring,” Lerena said.

“Throughout my training camp, spanning eight intense weeks, I’ve honed my skills and pushed my limits to prepare for the upcoming challenge.”

Kevin Lerena

Kevin Lerena and Senad Gashi at Emperors Palace on 25 November, 2023 in Kempton Park, South Africa. (Photo: James Gradidge / Gallo Images)

Joshua v Ngannou

When Ngannou steps into the ring on Friday evening it will be only the second time as a professional boxer, having spent the majority of his fighting career in the mixed martial arts ring, taking down opponents in the UFC.

His first fight was against Fury in October last year, one he narrowly lost through split decision despite felling his British opponent in the third round.

“I have learnt a little bit from the last fight, the last camp, and leading up to this one, so I get a little bit of experience, but the mindset is still the same,” the Cameroonian said.

“This is just my second boxing match, even though I am taking on the two best guys in the world in boxing.

“I am the underdog, I am going out there to prove that you can be an underdog and stand your ground.”

Joshua (30-27-3), conversely, has been boxing professionally for over a decade and attained his first big title win in 2013 when beat Charles Martin for the International Boxing Federation heavyweight title.

About Friday’s fight, Joshua said: “Official prediction? I deliver — I am the postman.”

The winner of the heavyweight brawl is expected to be in line to face either Fury or Oleksandr Usyk, who will fight for the undisputed heavyweight title on May 18 in Saudi Arabia. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options