High-riding DeeJay Kriel will take a major step up in competition when he fights formidable former world champion Nkosinathi Joyi on the “Four go to War” tournament headliner at Emperors Palace on October 21.
Kriel, just 22, is fresh off a compelling defeat of Dexter Alimento for the WBC International minimumweight title and is being primed for a world title crack.
This humdinger will coincide with the start of the Super Four featherweight tournament, which culminates with a final in February 2018. The ultimate winner will go on to campaign in the US.
As an opening Super Four gambit, there are two crackers: young gun Lerato Dlamini against former world champion Simphiwe Vetyeka and Tshifhiwa Munyai versus dazzling newcomer Azinga Fuzile.
That’s not all. Crowd-pleasing super-middleweight Ryno Liebenberg will make his return to the Emperors ring with a tricky bout against unbeaten youngster Patrick Mukala, who finally gets a major opportunity after proving his worth on the domestic scene.
Liebenberg is as grizzled as they come, but he might have a tough job fighting off Mukala, who has serious designs on more big fights down the line.
Kriel against Joyi is a fascinating contest with Kriel, young and hungry, against a wily old fox who will be desperate to prove he can still be a factor at this level.
Joyi (26-5) used to rank as the best fighter at his weight in the world, his slick southpaw skills a joy to watch. He’ll fancy his chances of taking Kriel (12-1-1) to school, but the champion will offer few openings and sets a furious fight pace that may be too much on the night.
“It’s a great fight, but there’s risk,” said Colin Nathan, trainer of Kriel, who knows Joyi well. He masterminded stablemate Simpiwe Konkco’s defeat of the former IBF king last year. Konkco never had an easy time of it either.
“Joyi has been around the block, nothing fazes him. But as we saw in DeeJay’s last fight, the kid can adjust and do what’s necessary. I’m very confident he’ll have the beating of Joyi, but we’ll have to plan and train very hard.”