By his own admission, unbeaten light-heavyweight Ryno “The Lion” Liebenberg has a big mouth.
The WBC #4, IBF #8 and WBO #15 says that the difference between him and many other fighters is that he backs up his boasts with his boxing.
“I’ll fight King Kong, Mike Tyson, whoever. You can say I have a big mouth, but I always deliver. Even my wife agrees I have a big mouth,” says the cocky South African (16-0, 11 KOs).
That same mouth has goaded and taunted Colombian Eleider Alvarez (15-0, 8 KOs), the WBC #12, WBA #2 and WBO #3, who fights Liebenberg in an intriguing battle of unbeaten prospects on the Golden Gloves “Title Tornado” tournament in Monte Carlo on October 25.
“He’s got no manners, but I’ll be teaching him some,” said Liebenberg, referring to Alvarez’s January fight against Andrew Gardiner in which, Liebenberg claims, Alvarez swore at the Canadian after being offered a congratulatory handshake.
Liebenberg constantly bates Alvarez on Twitter in an undisguised attempt to get under the skin of the Montreal-based Alvarez.
The South African is one of the sport’s supreme talkers and has an unusually self-deprecating view of his fighting style. “I’m never gonna be slick like a Mayweather or a Pernell Whitaker; it’s not what I do. I wouldn’t know how. If I try and be someone I’m not, I’ll come up short. You can’t learn how to box . . . you box a certain way and that’s it. You can always tighten up and be more polished, but the essence remains.
“I work on my strengths. I never used to think I could punch, but as a pro I’ve banged out a lot of guys. Thirteen of my 16 fights have been at light-heavy, with 11 of them stoppages. I’m tough, I can take a punch and I’m fit and strong.”
It’s a style that has served him well, particularly as he turned professional at the relatively advanced age of 27.
“I suspect Alvarez will box my ears off the first four or so rounds, but then I’ll start breaking him down. If I hit and land cleanly, he’s gone. After six, it’s my fight. I’ve told him, too – I’m gonna knock him out.”
That’s Liebenberg, talking the talk and, for now, walking the walk. We’ll see on October 25.