Joyi warns: don’t dare write me off

Ex-world champ pushing his body to the limit in chase of another dream

Simpiwe Konkco tries to break through Nkosinathi Joyi’s defences during the IBO mini-flyweight title clash. Konkco’s tactics eventually paid dividends.
Simpiwe Konkco tries to break through Nkosinathi Joyi’s defences during the IBO mini-flyweight title clash. Konkco’s tactics eventually paid dividends.
Image: Mark Andrews

The last time former world champion Nkosinathi “Mabere” Joyi was in action, he produced a fight of the year candidate.

This when he went down swinging to Simpiwe Konkco for the IBO world mini-flyweight title at Orient Theatre in East London in December 2016.

Judging by the performance he put forth, one would have expected him to return to the ring immediately, unless he has retired from boxing.

But Joyi has surprisingly been a victim of inactivity despite his big name and massive following in Mdantsane.

“I have never ever retired from the ring,” he said this week.

“In fact I am in the gym every day and that is confirmed by weight, which is still the mini-flyweight.”

This is incredible for a boxer who was once accused of struggling with weight after his shock fourth round knockout defeat by unheralded Filipino Rey Loreto in 2014.

Loreto dealt Joyi a quicker stoppage when he blasted him away in one round of their rematch a year later.

The loss virtually relegated him from a world-class status and installed him as a gatekeeper.

A pair of wins over nondescript opponents landed Joyi a challenge against the high-flying Konkco.

Joyi proved once more that he was far from being done in the ring as he pushed the Mthatha-born Colin Nathan-trained champion all the way en route to dropping a close points decision.

All those that watched the fight unanimously agreed that Konkco only won the fight in the corner when he changed his fight approach.

The gutsy showing convinced Joyi that he had what it takes to compete at the elite level.

However, it also served an undesired effect as opponents scurried for cover at the mention of his name.

He even temporarily relocated to Johannesburg to train under Kenneth Mabunda in a bid to revive his career.

But he has returned home and traced his roots back to Eyethu Boxing Club, where he won his first title.

“Yes I am training at Eyethu now because it is not far from home,” he said.

The legendary club is now going through a revival, with chief trainer Ncedo Cecane in charge.

He has returned it to its glory days when it produced such top talent as Welcome Ncita, Vuyani Bungu, Mbulelo Botile, Zolani Petelo, and Hawk Makepula.

Now it boasts SA junior- lightweight champion Phila Mpontshane, SA mini-flyweight champion Xolisa Magusha and a host of other prospects waiting to break through into the limelight.

Joyi, who won the IBO mini-flyweight title under the club in 2006 to start his world conquest, is hopeful that the good run of the club will rub off on him.

“We are working very hard here and I am ready to fight anyone. Problem is I do not know whether people are still scared of me.”

Now 35 years old with just five losses in 32 bouts, Joyi is allaying fears that Father Time may have caught up with him, arguing that he is still very sharp.