IBF world champion is confident he will retain flyweight belt

'Baby Face' to fight at home in KZN in December

Moruti Mthalane is happy to be fighting before the home crowd, he is seen here with Colin Nathan (trainer) and Hekkie Budler.
Moruti Mthalane is happy to be fighting before the home crowd, he is seen here with Colin Nathan (trainer) and Hekkie Budler.

Africa’s only IBF world champion, Moruti “Baby Face” Mthalane, who has defied the odds – which include his age – will not only put his flyweight belt on the line for the third time on December 20 but the ring warrior from Lindelani in Durban will fight in front of home fans in KwaZulu-Natal.

The 38-year-old former IBO titlist, who vacated that belt after three successful defences, will welcome Jayson "Smasher” Mama. The 23-year-old foe from the Philippines is rated No 3 by the IBF in the flyweight division. Both the No 2 and No 1 spots are vacant.

Mama is undefeated after 15 fights and has been a pro boxer since 2016.

Mthalane last fought at home in 2015 at Olive Convention Centre in Durban where he pulverised Renz Rosia of the Philippines into submission in the ninth round. Nokwanda Mbatha’s Tono Promotions will stage the fight.

“Contracts were signed today,” said trainer Colin “Nomakanjani” Nathan, who is responsible for the illustrious career of this ring warrior. “I am looking forward to Moruti’s homecoming.” Mbatha was not available for a comment.

Mthalane said: “I am happy and very excited to have been presented with the opportunity to fight at home. What a pity people cannot attend the fight due to coronavirus but still I will make them happy. This is a wonderful moment for me to be back at home where I last fought in 2015.”

Mthalane won the IBF title in 2018 after defeating Muhamad Waseem in Malaysia. The champion went on to chalk three defences in Macao and Japan (twice) last year – his last being in Japan where he stopped Akira Yaegashi in the ninth round on December 23. His successes outside the country earned him SA Sportsman of the Year award.

The boxer, whose marauding style of fighting has made it impossible for 26 of his 39 victims to hear the bell going for the 12th round, has not lost a fight since 2008, when a laceration inside his eye forced the stoppage of his fight against Nonito Donaire in Las Vegas

Mthalane has recorded 16 straight wins with 10 stoppages. He has been a professional boxer for 20 years.

 “I saw videos of Jayson Mama. He is young and I don’t see any problem defeating him," he said.