IBF champ makes most of 10% payment after title defence is called off

Half a loaf better than nothing for Baby Face

IBF flyweight world boxing champion Moruti "Babyface" Mthalane works on the heavy punching bag
IBF flyweight world boxing champion Moruti "Babyface" Mthalane works on the heavy punching bag
Image: Tsheko Kabasia

Half a loaf is better than none is a phrase that talks to IBF flyweight boxing champion Moruti “Baby Face” Mthalane, who accepted a purse of about R1.5m to defend against Filipino Jayson “Smasher” Mama in Durban on December 20 but had to settle for 10% of that amount.

The fight – his first at home in Durban as an IBF holder – was cancelled by Boxing SA. Its acting CEO Cindy Nkomo said they had no choice but to call it off a few days before the date after it became evident that the basic requirements to stage the tournament would not be met by promoter Nokwanda Mbatha.

Nkomo said Boxing SA had done all it possibly could to save the tournament. Mama and his team from the Philippines were already in the country when it was called off.

Rules governing local boxing are clear and stipulate that in such a situation the promoter must pay the fighters 10% of the agreed purse money as compensation after they had met all the contractual obligations.

Mthalane, from Lindelani in Durban, confirmed that he was paid the 10%. This was confirmed by Nkomo, who said that Mthalane, Nkululeko Mhlongo and Walter Dlamini all got paid the reduced purse money. Mhlongo was to defend his WBA Pan African middleweight belt against Dlamini in the main supporting bout. 

“I had planned big but at least I got something. It is better than not to get paid at all because I was able to patch here and there and also looked after my family during Christmas,” said Mthalane, who keeps a herd of cattle, goats and sheep on his uncle’s farm in Mpendle as an investment for the future.

His house in Johannesburg and his two cars are paid up. He says his former trainer Nick Durandt advised him to avoid credit.

“Nick taught me to save money and if I needed to buy something, I must pay cash,” said the 38-year-old father of an 11-year-old son.

Mthalane made it clear during the interview yesterday that he is preparing for life after boxing. “I drive down to Mpendle every month to check my livestock and also the people that I have employed to look after it,” said the man whose career is guided by successful trainer Colin Nathan. It was Nathan who made it possible for the fearless ring veteran to regain the IBF belt that he vacated in 2014.

Mthalane – who joined Nathan and Vusi Mtolo in 2017 – reclaimed the IBF belt in 2018 and has defended three times. He has 39 wins against two losses. Mthalane has won 16 straight fights since he suffered a sixth- round stoppage defeat against Filipino Nonito Donaire for the same IBF flyweight title in the US in 2008. That stoppage was caused by a laceration inside Mthalane’s eye.

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