Veteran to defend IBF belt againat English rookie Edwards

Mthalane tells why he's still 'Baby Face' after so many tough fights

Moruti Mthalane of South Africa exchanges blows with Masahiro Sakamoto of Japan in IBF Flyweight title bout during the under card fight ahead of the Donnie Nietes v Kazuto Ioka - WBO Super Flyweight Title Bout on December 31, 2018 in Macau, Macau.
Moruti Mthalane of South Africa exchanges blows with Masahiro Sakamoto of Japan in IBF Flyweight title bout during the under card fight ahead of the Donnie Nietes v Kazuto Ioka - WBO Super Flyweight Title Bout on December 31, 2018 in Macau, Macau.
Image: Kevin Lee/Getty Images

Moruti Mthalane has been hit hard, very hard to be precise, in his boxing career, spanning 21 years. But despite having absorbed power punches, the 38-year-old veteran of 42 fights is still going strong.

Nicknamed “Baby Face” by his trainer, the late Nick Durandt, the reigning IBF flyweight champion, who is yet to be knocked out, is still looking good for the years he has been taking punches in the boxing ring.

Mthalane says his metabolism still functions the way it used to when he was 21 years old and that is why he has been able to fight in one weight division without struggling with weight all these years.

“Pain will always be there and felt; I am human,” he laughed yesterday.

“I have been hurt a few times in boxing, but what has helped me is my ability not to show my opponent that he has hurt me. Fortunately, I have not been knocked out.”

The warrior has two TKO (technical) losses. His topsy-turvy showdown with Nkqubela Gwazela for the SA and WBC International flyweight titles in 2004 was stopped by referee Alfred Buqwana in the 10th round when Gwazela trapped Mthalane in the corner and rained in punches. The second loss – four years later against Filipino Nonito Donaire for the IBF belt in Las Vegas – was stopped on medical grounds because of the laceration inside his eye.

He said the hardest hitter he’s fought is Ricardo “The Mathematician” Nunez from Panama. Mthalane stopped him over eight rounds in Panama in 2012.

“I felt like he was hitting me with bricks,”  Mthalane said.

The match Mthalane will never forget was against Mexican Julio Cesar Miranda at Nasrec Arena in 2009.

“It was action nonstop from round one until the end. You give your all, skill and power, but the man is right in front of you doing exactly what you have done,” he said.

Mthalane won on points. Asked what will it take for a boxer to defeat him, he said: "He must have four hands.”

Mthalane, however, said he respects all his opponents and that includes Sunny Edwards – a 15-fight rookie from the UK – who will challenge Mthalane in that country on April 30.

“I don’t see him being much of a problem; the title is coming back home,” warned the man who has knocked out 26 of his 39 victims.

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