By Jake Donovan
A career-defining win by its very definition should take your career to new heights.
Somebody should try telling that to Nkosinathi Joyi.
The South African strawweight is coming up on his two-year anniversary of his March ’10 title win over Raul Garcia and is recognized by many as the best in the world at his weight class.
Sadly, neither accomplishment has resulted in significant ring activity or money in his pocket. From the moment Joyi (21-0-0-1NC, 15KO) entered the title picture, it’s been one fight per year for the unbeaten titlist.
The goal set in place by his handlers for 2012 is a simple one: bring Joyi to the world, far more often than has been the case in recent years.
“It’s so hard to secure fights for him because of his size and the way he fights,” veteran promoter Branco Milenkovic says of Joyi, who at 5’6” is massively bigger than the rest of his strawweight field. “The past few years have not been easy for him, but he remains patient and ready.”
Joyi has fought just once since his domination of then-unbeaten Raul Garcia in March ’10, which in turn was his first fight in nine months and his lone ring appearance of 2010. His one fight of 2011 came early in the year, with a historical angle attached to the event.
Katsunari Takayama sought to become just the second ever Japanese fighter to win an IBF title, as the title is not recognized in his native homeland. Such an achievement would have to come on the road, as he sought out for his second straight trip to South Africa.
The night lasted all of eight minutes, as the fight was stopped when a cut suffered from an accidental headbutt was deemed too severe for Takayama to continue.
Those eight minutes will serve as the extent of Joyi’s ring activity over a period of two years by the time his rematch with Takayama rolls around on March 24 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
If his handlers have their way, it will be merely the first fight of a big 2012 campaign, as opposed to simply his annual in-ring appearance, having fought just once in each of the past three years.
“Nkosinathi is in the prime of his career,” Milenkovich states of his beanpole strawweight champion, who turned 29 on New Year’s Day. “Now is the time to secure big fights.”
The past year was huge for Branco Sports Promotions, who at one point boasted five champions among his stable of nearly 100 fighters. It was an equally big year for the lower weight classes, as the strawweight division boasts the Fight of the Year with Akira Yaegashi’s 10th round knockout win of Pornsawan Porpramook in late October.
Also of note was the breakthrough campaign of Kazuto Ioka, whose knockout of Oleydong Sithsamerchai set the tone for a huge year capped by a 1st round knockout of Yogdeong Tor Chalermchai on New Year’s Eve.
As the division continues to produce big moments, there’s no time like the present for Joyi to confirm his recognition as the best in class. That means securing notable fights with other talent existing a world away.
“I’m willing to fight anyone in the world, anywhere in the world,” insists Joyi. “I’m not looking past Takayama. I took our first fight seriously, and have unfinished business against the same opponent in March. But I am training hard and am confident of victory. With a win, I hope to get the other champions in the ring, either here in South Africa, or wherever I have to go to prove I’m the best.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]