A common refrain in boxing is that it’s often harder hanging onto your title than to win it.
Having taken 11 years to climb that mountain, SA junior-welterweight champion Warren Joubert has no plans of giving it up his belt anytime soon – and that spells bad news for Grant Fourie.
Joubert spilled his fair share of blood in the years it took to capture the title earlier this year, hence his determination to kick on and make the most of it.
His first defence takes place in exactly one month on the excellent “Young Guns” fight card at Emperors Palace.
Four weeks out and he couldn’t be happier.
“I’m a hard worker, I come prepared, so I’ve really got stuck into sparring,” he says.
Opposition has come in the form of Xolisani Ndongeni and rugged Joey Stiglingh, ensuring he will be in peak condition come July 30.
He may be 34, but for Joubert the championship success has given him a fresh lease on life as a fighter.
“It’s definitely boosted my confidence because it’s what I set out to do many years ago. I really feel like a late bloomer, especially as I had bad luck in the past. I’m on a good streak – three wins – and I feel I’m in the right place with a formidable team, headed by Colin Nathan.”
Not even Nathan’s flying trip to the US shortly will impact his preparation as HotBox assistant Vusi Mtolo is well versed in the methods and requirements of the head trainer.
Interestingly, Joubert and Fourie were meant to fight in the past, when Fourie was with Nathan and Joubert with Nick Durandt, but the bout never came off.
The pair has sparred many rounds together, having spent time as stablemates for a while at Manny Fernandes’ gym.
“We know one another well and there’s a mutual respect,” says Joubert, who came head to head with Fourie at a media event last week.
“Grant is a clever, skilful fighter, but I don’t think he has enough to shake me. I’m the harder, stronger fighter, I’m more conditioned.”
Promoter Jeff Ellis of African Ring knows he has a potentially terrific fight on the cards.
“We’ve seen these guys often enough to know they give everything each time they fight. I expect them to get stuck in because the SA title is something they cherish equally well.”