DeeJay Kriel is buzzing – and not just because he has a major fight lined up at Emperors Palace next month.
The WBC International minimumweight champion is just back from a training stint in Sin City, courtesy of his sponsor (Eastern Hydraulics), who stumped up the cash for a two-week stay in Las Vegas.
Kriel decamped to the Mayweather gym, working under the watchful eye of Kenny Adams, well-known in South Africa, having worked with Jan Bergman. Adams also trained Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones jnr and Riddick Bowe, just three of 26 world champions he worked with.
Unfortunately, there was no sighting of Mayweather himself, the former champion spending the fortnight in Miami.
“It was very cool,” said a thrilled Kriel yesterday. “I was in the Mayweather gym every day and met guys like Hasim Rahman, Jessie Vargas, Andrew Tabiti and Jacob “Stitch” Duran, the legendary cutman.”
More importantly, Adams shared with Kriel some of the wisdom acquired over a lifetime of boxing – he was army champion – and training fighters.
Kriel says he learned many new power techniques, improved foot work skills and how to hit harder; techniques he hopes to exploit when he fights a top-10 ranked international opponent on June 23. The bout will be confirmed at a Thursday announcement at the Smith gym.
Kriel is already sparring four- and six-rounders with Hekkie Budler, who himself has a major bout against WBA and IBF light-flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi on May 20.
“I’m always in the gym, but nowhere near peak fitness yet,” said Kriel, ranked eight by the WBC and WBO and 11th by the WBA. “I’m not going hard, but there’s a plan in place and I’ll be more than ready.”