One of South African boxing’s popular ‘little big men’, Deejay Kriel, has decided there is no better place than home.
The former International Boxing Federation (IBF) strawweight world champion (16-2-1-8 knockouts), who made the bold decision to leave his native country in 2018 and pursue his boxing dreams in the US under trainer Kenny Adams, is back for good. .
Keen for action after a long period of inactivity in the US, Kriel didn’t hesitate to advance his career by rejoining trainer Colin Nathan’s Hotbox Gym in Savoy, Johannesburg.
At 26 – still a baby in boxing terms – he remains a very marketable fighter and enjoys a large following in this country.
As an added bonus, there will be no shortage of quality sparring partners for the little warrior, with some of the best local fighters in his weight class, including highly rated Sivenathi Nontshinga and Hekkie Budler, of Hotbox Gym.
“I still feel great. I’ll go back to the gym and show the flames,” Kriel swore.
“I know I still have what it takes. As with anything, the more you fight, the better you get.”
With Nathan’s fledgling No Doubt Management company constantly opening new doors, it was clearly a good idea for Kriel.
He is still ranked 12th by both the IBF, where Nontshinga is the leading contender, and the WBA at junior flyweight. way beyond boxing.
“I’m glad I fought the best in the world. Yes, I lost, but I still believe I can become one of the top dogs in these smaller, talent-laden weight classes in the future,” said Kriel.
Kriel, whose four-month-old son was born in the US, admitted that he had gained a lot of boxing knowledge during his American adventure, but there were simply no opportunities to relaunch his career there.
He has been starving since failing to challenge Felix Alvarado’s IBF junior flyweight world title in Dallas in early 2021, where he succumbed to the only stoppage of his career, a 10th round technical knockout.
“I know I still have what it takes. As with everything, the more you fight, the better you get. I would still like to win a junior fly world title and become a multi-division world champion; that’s my dream .I don’t shy away from anyone.”