Will Deejay Kriel emulate Zolani Petelo?

DeeJay Kriel, left, in a fight against Xolisa Magusha. On Sunday Kriel faces Carlos Licona in US for IBF mini-flyweight title. /Gallo Images
DeeJay Kriel, left, in a fight against Xolisa Magusha. On Sunday Kriel faces Carlos Licona in US for IBF mini-flyweight title. /Gallo Images

Can little-known American-based SA boxer Deejay Kriel do exactly what nameless Zolani Petelo did in winning the IBF mini-flyweight title
in 1997?

Kriel will oppose Carlos Licona for the same title in New York, in his debut fight in the US, on Sunday morning.

They are evenly matched and 23-years-old Kriel has 14 wins, a loss and a draw while Licona is undefeated in 14 fights.

Kriel, from Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, is under the guidance of 78-year-old accomplished trainer Kenny Adams who trained notable boxers such as Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe and Pernell Whittaker.

Adams, who also trained SA's Jan Bergman, was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

Petelo was an unknown entity when he won that IBF belt by a stoppage of Ratanapol Sor Vorapon of Thailand in that country 22 years ago.

Petelo, at the time trained by accomplished mentor Mzimasi Mnguni, was promoted by Rodney Berman, who was also in charge of Kriel's career before the boxer relocated to the USA last year.

Petelo lost that belt in his sixth defence to Ricardo Lopez in New York on September 29, in 2001. Lopez, who was unbeaten in 52 fights, with 38 knockouts, retired after
that bout.

Now the spotlight falls on Kriel, who was quoted by The Ring Magazine saying: "The smaller weights do their best in SA but for the last few years, things haven't been happening. There is no money in the ring. I was never happy with the promoters I was with, my career wasn't going where I wanted it to go, so I said, 'OK let me take the initiative'."

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