New Faces: Deejay Kriel
Hometown: Boksburg, South Africa
Weight class: Strawweight
Height: 5-foot-2 (159 cm)
Amateur record: 0-3
Turned pro: 2014
Pro record: 8-1, 4 knockouts
Trainers: Colin Nathan, Vusi Mtolo
Manager: Colin Nathan
Promoter: Golden Gloves
Best night of pro career: Unsurprisingly, Kriel says his best performance was his first pro win and gaining revenge in the process.
“My best performance as a professional was my second fight, dominating Colin Tloubatla who beat me in my pro debut,” Kriel told RingTV.com.
Worst night of pro career: Kriel dropped a four-round points decision in his first fight. The fight took place at flyweight, but he has since moved down to strawweight with more success.
“My worst performance as a professional was my pro debut,” he said, “which was my first and only loss.”
Next fight: The 20-year-old fights for the second time this year on Saturday. He meets unbeaten Ayunda Dylani in a six-round scheduled contest at his home away from home at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, in his home province of Gauteng.
Why he’s a prospect: Unlike many who appear in the New Faces feature, Kriel doesn’t have any amateur pedigree.
“I never achieved nothing as an amateur,” he said. “(I) only had three fights at the age of 15 and lost all three of them.”
However, he’s been able to gain invaluable experience sparring with former WBA strawweight champion and gym mate Hekkie Budler, as well as former world-title challenger Simphiwe Khonco.
The young South African feels he has several strengths inside a boxing ring.
“My biggest strength as a fighter is my speed, accuracy, reflex, a great counter fighter and the ability to learn fast.”
His manager/trainer, Colin Nathan, who guided Budler to world honors, says his fighter is a gym rat: (He’s) a very hard-working, committed boxer who loves training to the point of me telling him to stop training.”
Why he’s a suspect: With his lack of amateur experience it remains very early days. However, sparring with the likes of Budler and working with Nathan and Rodney Berman of Golden Gloves shows he has talent. At just 20, he has time to mature and develop his overall game.
Kriel feels he needs to improve in a couple of areas to continue his progression: “(I need to) throw more punches and to be a more aggressive fighter,” he said, “which I work on everyday to grow as a boxer.”
Nathan would like to see Kriel improve his defense and work on more combinations, as well as being more aggressive.
Story lines: Kriel’s early years were much like many youngsters growing up in the townships in South Africa.
“When I was younger, (we) struggled financially and things always went wrong for my parents,” he said. “As a child, just wishing you could make things better but couldn’t. When I was younger I was always bullied by kids in my neighborhood; they did and said things ’cause they knew things about my family and would use those things against me.”
When he was 8 he first became interested in boxing: “I started with my uncle one in one of his boxing classes, where he used to train young kids how to box.”
His boxing hero is Floyd Mayweather Jr.
He doesn’t have many hobbies, though enjoys a wide social life, spending time with his family, girlfriend and friends. He is interested in guns. He works at a gym as a boxing trainer and likes to teach people how to box and learn new things.
Apr. 10 – Colin Tloubatla – L PTS 4
June 26 – Colin Tloubatla – PTS 4
Aug. 28 – Clever Mdingi – PTS 4
Dec. 3 – Donald Khetsane – TKO 3
Apr. 13 – Clever Mdingi – TKO 3
July 30 – Thabo Moabi – TKO 5
Oct. 4 – Edward Disloane – PTS 4
Dec. 1 – Thabo Moabi – TKO 3
Feb. 2 – Morabedi Khotle – UD 6