By Ron Jackson
South Africa’s Nkosinathi Joyi who is considered by many to be pound-for-pound the number one minimumweight in the world makes the third defense of his IBF belt when he meets Mario Rodriguez of Mexico in his hometown of Gausave, Sinaloa tonight. The 29-year-old Joyi (22-0, 15 KOs) who fights from the southpaw stance won the belt on March 26, 2010, and rather sadly has only made two defenses since then. The first defense against Japan’s Katsunari Takayama ended in a controversial no contest after three rounds when Takayama was cut on the head and in a return match with Takayama he retained belt by wide margins on points over 12 rounds. It is a tragedy that this classy fighter has only had 15 rounds of fight action since January 29, 2011.
Rodriguez (14-6-4, 10 KOs) made his pro debut on December 17, 2005 at the age of 17 and was stopped in the second round by Geovanny Lopez. He then lost five of his next 13 fights before winning the WBC Continental Americas minimumweight title when he stopped Raul Casteneda (9-1) in the twelfth round. Since then he has only suffered one loss and that was against WBO minimuweight champion Donnie Nietes who beat him by wide margins over 12 rounds in August 2010.
After this setback he has fought to a draw with Pedro Guevara, and beaten Manuel Jiminez, Karluis Diaz, Gibert Keb Baas and in his most recent fight in June this year knocked out Armando Vazquez.
However, none of these fighters can be considered world beaters.
Joyi who will be fighting outside his home country for the first time must go into the fight as the favourite against the experienced Rodriguez who has only been stopped once in his career and that was on his debut.
Joyi has all the advantages against his shorter and smaller opponent, and provided he is not overawed by the occasion could even win inside the distance.