Moruti 'Baby Face' Mthalane ready for IBF flyweight title fight
Moruti "Baby Face" Mthalane says he is delighted to have been given the opportunity to fight for the vacant IBF flyweight title.
What has also motivated him is the fact his fight against Muhammad Waseem of Pakistan will be in the same bill where Filipino legend Manny "Pacman" Pacquaio will challenge WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse.
The tournament - to be staged jointly by Manny Pacquiao, Golden Boy and Top Rank promotions - will take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 15.
Mthalane, a 35 year old ring veteran of 35 wins against two losses - is rated No 3.
Waseem - who is a novice of only eight wins from eight fights - occupies the No 5 spot in the IBF's ratings in the flyweight class.
Mthalane from Lindelani in Durban once held the IBF belt which he relinquished in 2014 due to paltry purse money he was to earn for his defence against Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng.
Mthalane - who had been the IBO champion - fought his way to the top ratings by winning the IBF International title last year. That bout - he won by a stoppage in the second round against Ardin Diale of the Philippines in Mmabatho - was staged by promoter Tshele Kometsi of the TK Boxing Promotions.
"I am so excited," he said yesterday. "What is left for me is to prepare well and win."
Mthalane - who is trained in Gauteng by Colin "Nomakanjani' Nathan in Gauteng, added:
"The fact that I will be in the same ring as Manny Pacquiao makes me feel so pumped. I will do my best to win but it all begins with my preparations. For now I am training lightly - something that I always do to keep fit - but I will start training harder in May because the fight will take place in July. I don’t want to go hard now because there is still enough time."
Mthalane paid tribute to Kometsi who came to his rescue when he was about to lose the IBO title. Mthalane had not fought for the whole of 2016. Kometsi made him defend against Filipino Genesis Libranza who Mthalane stopped in four rounds at Wembley Arena on April 28 last year.
Kometsi also organised the IBF International title fight which Mthalane won by a knockout in the second round against Diale on October 27.
That win earned Mthalane a top rating with the IBF. Mthalane was actually to meet Waseem in the title elimination bout. But champion Donie Nietes vacated the title this week and moved up to the junior bantamweight class.
The hierarchy of the IBF then elevated Mthalane's fight against Waseem to the actual world title.
"Bra TK (Kometsi) may not be involved in the IBF title fight but I will engage him in negotiations once I have won the title to see if he cannot get me to defend," said Mthalane who dismissed the notion that he was too old at 35.
"You are as old as you feel," he said. "People talk what they like. Once I feel that the time is up I will quit, not because people are talking. No one brought me to boxing."
"I saw some videos of Waseem and he is good. That puts a challenge on me to prepare hard for him," he said in his parting shot.