‘Do it for your mother’ – Trainer’s words lead to thrilling final round from boxer whose mother died just a day before fight

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Kevin Lerena was inspired by his trainer’s words in an epic final round, but was narrowly beaten by Justis Huni.

Lerena announced just a day before the contest that his mother had passed away, plummeting the fight into doubt.

Lerena fought despite the bereavement

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Lerena fought despite the bereavementCredit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom

However he confirmed that he would go ahead with plans to compete on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s fight with Francis Ngannou, in an emotional tribute to his late mother.

And the 31-year-old put on a brave performance against the bookies’ favourite, even threatening to close the show in the final round.

His trainer had shouted ‘do it for your mother’ in an emotional rally to get him to leave his all in the ring.

And he did just that, digging in and rocking his rival with a sensational late barrage, but Huni survived.

The judges scored the contest at 96-94,96-94, 98-92 in Huni’s favour to hand the 24-year-old his latest win.

He said in an emotional post fight interview: “There’s no such thing as good timing when someone dies.

“Emotionally it was tough but don’t take anything away from Huni.

“When I had him hurt, I should have finished him but he stayed up.
“I came out here in honour of my mum.

Lerena was urged on by his trainer in an emotional speech

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Lerena was urged on by his trainer in an emotional speech

“I’d like to dedicate this to my mum, my beautiful family and kids at home, and Saudi Arabia. Thank you!”

The fight started at a good pace in the opening exchanges, with Lerena piling on the pressure in the second round with an aggressive start.

After a positive flurry, the South African had caused some significant marking on the head of undefeated prospect Huni going into the midway point.

The underdog had blood trickling from his nose shortly afterwards, with both men suffering damage in an intriguing battle.

Huni became the aggressor as the fight went on, taking centre ring and pinning Lerena back who was clearly tiring.

In incredible fashion, Lerena threatened to stop Huni with a big barrage in the final round, but the talented favourite managed to survive.

Huni was able to weather the late storm, and it wasn’t enough for Lerena to pick up the win on the night.

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