mthalane not out yet

Bongani Magasela

Bongani Magasela

Moruti Mthalane, who lost to IBF champion Nonito Donaire on a sixth-round technical knockout in a title fight on Saturday night, could fight for the same belt in February.

This commitment was made by promoter Branco Milenkovic, whose charge's stoppage in 1min:31sec into the round at the Mandalay Bay Events Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada, was caused by a laceration inside the left eyelid.

A doctor from the Nevada State Athletics Commission said such cuts warranted an immediate stoppage because they could easily damage the eye.

Though Mthalane's trainer Nick Durandt has mastered the art of closing cuts, he was not afforded the opportunity to show his expertise. "Worse things have happened. Mthalane is alive, only the eye has a problem. This is a small thing. I will fix it," said Milenkovic who enjoys a cordial relationship with this New Jersey- based boxing organisation.

He staged the IBF title eliminator between Mthalane and Hussein Hussein at East London's Jan Smuts Stadium in July, a fight Mthalane won via a lopsided points decision.

"It [the fight] could be in February next year," said Milenkovic, whose confidence could also be based on the fact that Donaire said he could vacate the title, move up to the junior bantamweight class and challenge newly crowned IBF, WBA and WBC champion, Vic Darchinyan.

Filipino Donaire, who is also the IBO champion, struggled to make the limit for his second title defence.

Mthalane will lose the IBF's number one ranking. The number two spot is vacant and Denkosan Kaovichit is ranked third. If Donaire moves up then anything is possible between Mthalane and Kaovichit.

Mthalane, from Ntuzuma in Durban, suffered his second short route defeat, the first being in the eleventh round against then champion Nkqubela Gwazela in 2004. Mthalane has 22 wins, 15 by knockout.

Donaire, who won the IBF and IBO belt with a spectacular, perfectly timed left hook in the fifth round against Darchinyan in July last year, tried hard to take Mthalane out in the first two rounds.

But he found Mthalane's defence too tight. The challenger got the better of him in rounds three and four.

He described Mthalane as a defensive fighter whose style made it hard for him to land his bombs. Donaire registered his 13th stoppage win from 20 victories against one defeat.