NKOSINATHI Joyi reckoned he struck the first psychological blow against Hekkie Budler at the pre-fight medical on Tuesday, as the International Boxing Organisation (IBO) underdog champion displayed what seemed to be a flash of anger.
Joyi, speaking in his Xhosa mother tongue because he does not feel comfortable talking in English in public, predicted an easy night come their clash for Budler’s IBO straw-weight crown at Emperors Palace on Saturday night.
"I’m giving Hekkie up to six rounds," said Joyi, a former International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion and the favourite in the eyes of many pundits.
"If it goes beyond six, he must consider himself the luckiest person on earth."
Budler, the champion, seemed to snap, appearing irritated when it came to his turn to talk, switching to Afrikaans and complaining that his opponent had chosen to speak a language he could not understand.
"He seemed emotional," Joyi’s manager, Siphato Handi, said later.
Even Budler’s own trainer, Colin Nathan, had detected his charge’s darkened mood, but added: "I think I like it."
But Budler, usually polite and respectful, denied he had been angry. "I know he doesn’t like to speak English, so I was thinking of talking Afrikaans the whole week," he said with a smile.
"You have to mix it up sometimes."
But Joyi walked away believing otherwise. "Nkosinathi thinks he’s starting to panic," said Handi. "Maybe he thought this day would never come."
Nathan himself had tried to rile the Joyi camp when he asked them if the boxer, when he lost his IBF belt in Mexico on a stoppage defeat to a journeyman last year, had quit or been knocked out.
Handi responded by saying the past did not matter, but the answer Nathan was surely looking for was: Joyi quit, taking the full count on one knee.
The bout will top the Golden Gloves bill also featuring brawling light-heavyweights Johnny Muller and Ryno Liebenberg, as well as junior-flyweights Gideon Buthelezi and Edrin Dapudong.