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19 OCTOBER 2018


Nkosinathi Joyi: "I'm An All Rounder"

By Derek Bonnett

The king is dead; long live the king. Well, not really, but when SecondOut’s reigning 105 pound king, Roman Gonzalez, vacated this position to campaign three pounds north at junior flyweight, he left a distinct successor. However, it’s a shame Gonzalez and the heir to the throne of world’s best strawweight didn’t settle things inside of the ring. Regardless, in the wake of the most impressive four fight run in the division, Nkosinathi Joyi reigns supreme.

The South African’s march to the top of his division hastened in June of 2008 after he got off the canvas in the fifth round to stop Sammy Gutierrez in seven. From then on, "Mabere" as he is known in his country, has only competed with and defeated the best.

"It is indeed my last few fights that showed the world that I am the best boxer in my division," Joyi stated. "Remember, I knocked out Sammy Gutierrez after he went the full distance with Raul Garcia. I outclassed Florante Condes after he lost narrowly against Raul Garcia. Then, I convincingly and unanimously conquered Raul Garcia to annex the IBF title from him. I am the best because I have beaten the best. It is through hard work and dedication from me and my management. We are indeed a solid team."

Joyi, who tentatively makes the first defense of his IBF minimumweight title on November 27 against Katsunari Takayama, is one of three currently reigning South African world champions along with Moruti Mthalane (112) and Mzonke Fana (130). Joyi may be the smallest of the lot, but the twenty-seven year old champion, 21-0 (15), may prove to have the most substantial reign of the trio.

"Katsunari Takayama is the mandatory challenger for Nkosinathi’s title," Joyi’s management affirmed. "He knocked out our own country man, Tshepo Lefelo, to acquire this status. He is a quick fighter with fast hand speed -- a relatively clever customer. We have seen him in the ring and we are sure of victory come the day of the fight. It’s a pity that he seems to be employing delaying tactics, but we are ready for him. We hope to win the purse bids on November 9, so that the fights takes place before the end of the year."

Takayama is best known for his narrow points loss to Yutaka Niida in 2007 and more recently for his decision loss to Gonzalez in 2009. He has previously held the interim WBA title and the WBC champion at 105 pounds. Joyi is aware of Takayama’s pedigree as an elite caliber fighter, but sees his nemesis as just another roadblock on his trek toward immortality in South African boxing history.

"Following in the footsteps of the South African boxing greats like Vuyani Bungu is the history that every boxer would like to write in his boxing days," Joyi venerated. "Indeed the IBF minimumweight belt belongs to South Africa. We cannot erase the history that was written by Zolani Petelo in this division. I feel great to have achieved what only the best boxers have achieved. Without any doubt, Vuyani Bungu stands out to be the best, followed by Brian Mitchell, and others. Winning this title has earned me the recognition and respect of being the best boxer in my division in the whole world."

Joyi and his team have learned quickly that each fighter does not receive the same opportunity as the next, and like most of boxing’s most diminutive warriors, Team Joyi has struggled to get the right bouts in place to allow their fighter to earn his way into the hall of fame and boxing lore.

"Securing fights for Joyi has been difficult," Team Joyi admitted. "No opponent wants to  fight him without resistance. We hope to change his fortunes by making sure that in between his mandatory defenses he also fights voluntary challengers of his titles. We also plan to unite with other world champions of note. We have no problem at all fighting overseas, we just need that break. With clear cooperation between IBF, WBC, WBA and WBO, it is in our plan that immediately after this mandatory defense, Nkosinathi Joyi will strive to fight for unification against either WBC or WBA champions, whoever comes first. That is exactly our plan. We want to make history and are prepared to go anywhere to make that history. The minimumweight division has never had an undisputed champion of the world. Nkosinathi Joyi, South Africa, and Africa will make that history."


It’s never too early in a title reign to start considering one’s legacy. An undisputed champion is hard to ignore and should Joyi achieve such status, the strawweights of the world will have little choice but to man up and take on the best. Interestingly enough, Joyi’s old rival Sammy Gutierrez recently captured the interim WBA title. With Gonzalez vacating his belt, the Mexican fighter will likely be promoted to full champion. Given their history, it’s conceivable the two could meet again. Oleydong Sithsamerchai has also shown a willingness to fight the best. Juan Palacios, Donnie Nietes, and Denver Cuello all make for interesting challenges as well.

"Joyi’s toughest fight was against Gutty," Team Joyi stated in regard to Gutierrez. "It will be a good fight if they meet again. We actually sent a good luck wish to Gutty prior to his WBA title fight via Mr. Rafael Lopez, our associate in Mexico, and we made it clear we would like to fight him again, even in Mexico."

Joyi shares this reverence for Gutierrez, but had he his choice of opponent on November 27, it is likely it would be neither Takayama nor Gutierrez vying for his title.

"To be honest I wish I was fighting Roman Gonzalez my next fight to prove who is the best," Joyi boasted. "I don’t think that fight will happen, I called for him in the right channels and they decided to run and called themselves the best. Takayama is a fast fighter with good hand speed.  He is not a brilliant fighter. He uses hands more than brains. He has no reverse. I am Mabere. I am not Gonzalez. Takayama will not go the full distance with me, not at all. I am expecting a difficult fight though."

Both Gonzalez and Joyi are young enough that it is still conceivable the two could meet later in their careers at junior flyweight. They just might end up as the most significant lower weight rivalry since Carbajal-Gonzalez and Alvarez-Lopez. Mabere’s interest in topping the performance of Roman Gonzalez just might be the initial stage of a budding feud.

It might be too early to size this one up, but a clash between SecondOut’s two most recent number one strawweights is a fight worth waiting for. In the meantime, it should be adequate enough to watch them develop their individual legacies and dominate other elite competition. How Joyi sizes himself up though is worth our immediate attention.

"I take the initiative in the ring of boxing. I don’t wait for my opponent to dictate terms to me. I am also a good counter-puncher if my opponent is aggressive. My arms are my best weapons. I can punch, I can box. I use my brain, I use my eyes. I hit hard, I hit fast. I am an all rounder."

November 8, 2010

For more boxing talk, contact Derek Bonnett on Facebook or at

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