DeeJay Kriel has top billing at Emperors Palace this weekend.
Little wonder he’s feeling anxious.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous,” said the 22-year-old who tops the Amabhungu Ak’sasa card on Sunday afternoon. What’s more, in Dexter Alimento he faces his first international opponent who, like him, has lost just one professional bout.
“I’ve watched him a little on video,” said Kriel on Sunday. “He can hit hard, I’m expecting a tough fight.”
Having pounded the pro boards since 2014, this fight marks a significant switch in Kriel’s trajectory. He agrees that it’s time to step up, to see if he can follow in the footsteps of stablemates Hekkie Budler and Simpiwe Konkco.
“I’m curious about what an international fight will be like. I’ve paid my dues locally, so it’s time. I’ve trained hard and I’m super fit. I’ll be ready.”
He’s endured a series of 10- and 12-round sparring sessions with Budler and Moruti Mthalane, among others, and believes he is ready for anything the Filipino might bring in their clash for the WBC International title.
“The experience they’ve brought has been invaluable. They’ve pushed me hard. Now I need to deliver.”