SA boxer keeps crown for now

2011-12-13 14:01

Johannesburg - Nkosinathi Joyi, rated by many as the best pound-for-pound boxer in South Africa and No 1 in the world in his division by Ring Magazine, will not be stripped of his IBF mini-flyweight title after all.

This emerged on Tuesday after promoter Branco Milenkovic won a protracted purse battle with the Eastern Cape government to stage Joyi's mandatory defence against Japan's Katsunari Takayama.

In the process, the IBF agreed to extend the deadline for the Joyi-Takayama fight by a further three months - thereby removing the spectre of South Africa's highly-rated boxer losing his title by default as a result of the promotional wrangle.

"It would have been a tragedy for South African boxing if Joyi lost his title outside the ring," Milenkovic said.

"And that was on the verge of happening after the Eastern Cape Tourism Board initially backed my bid to stage the fight and then transferred their support to a rival consortium.

"Now the IBF has cleared up the situation by awarding me the sole promotional rights for the fight and extending the mandatory deadline by a further three months."

Milenkovic said he was in the process of securing a sponsor and a suitable venue for the much-anticipated Joyi-Takayama showdown.

"I'm personally not happy staging the fight in the Eastern Cape after what has happened, but Joyi is a national hero in East London and I'll have to take into account his feelings on the issue."

The IBF had granted the fight extension, Milenkovic said, due to the extenuating circumstances regarding the postponement of the bout, which was initially due to take place in East London on October 29.

"The fight was to have been sponsored by the Eastern Cape government through their Tourism Board," he said.

"But the sponsorship was withdrawn at the last minute and awarded to another group, leaving us in a predicament without the promised financial backing.

"The IBF accepted the evidence that the postponement was beyond our control and gave us additional time to stage the bout - which could now take place in the Gauteng area."

Joyi's mandatory defence against Takayama is eagerly awaited after their first bout, at Carnival City in January, was declared a no contest following an accidental clash of heads in the third round.

"After the early ending to the title fight there is some unfinished business between the two," Milenkovic said.