By Mesuli Zifo
SOUTH Africa’s best pound for pound boxer Nkosinathi “Mabere” Joyi is in a race against time to save his IBF mini-flyweight crown after he missed three dates to honour his mandatory defence against Japanese Katsunari Takayama.
Joyi (21-0, 15 KOs) who has not fought since his no contest clash against Takayama in January was ordered to give the Japanese a rematch after their clash ended via an accidental headbut.
After the anti-climax end of the fight, the IBF resolved to grant Joyi an opportunity to engage in optional defence which he did not exercise.
Takayama (24-4, 10 Kos) was also retained as the mandatory challenger and when Joyi was required to honour his mandatory defence obligations against the Japanese his camp bunked on three dates, prompting Takayama’s camp to file a protest with the IBF for action to be taken against the champion.
The IBF has since scheduled for the promotional rights of the fight to go to purse bids next Tuesday.
While this has been playing out, the Eastern Cape provincial government which initially promised to financially back his promoter Branco Milenkovic to stage the fight in Joyi’s backyard in East London has reneged on the agreement, leaving the southpaw champion in a predicament.
This week the government launched a “Save Joyi’s Title Campaign” in which financial assistance was pledged to stage the fight in Joyi’s Eastern Cape Province.
However the deal excluded Milenkovic who is seen as outsider as he hails from Johannesburg in another province.
Three Eastern Cape promoters Mzi Mnguni, Koko Godlo and Siphatho Handi who also serves as Joyi’s manager, have been commissioned to stage the fight.
Handi said Mnguni was roped in because he has a television backing which is one of the requirements by the government in order to finance the fight.
“There are issues I was not happy about but we had to reach a compromise for the sake of Joyi,” he said.
While the deal has been sealed the fight is far from confirmed as none of the three promoters are licensed IBF promoters, rendering them illegible to participate in next Tuesday’s purse bids.
Handi confirmed that he and his two colleagues are not licensed IBF promoters and therefore may still need Milenkovic’s help to bid in the purse bidding process.
Should there be no bidders in next week’s purse bids Joyi will likely be stripped of his IBF mini-flyweight title.