at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Johannesburg – Jinxed fighter Moruti Mthalane, South Africa's longest-reigning and respected champion, was stripped of IBF flyweight title after he pulled out of his mandatory defence against Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng on Saturday.
The shock news was confirmed on Saturday by the 31-year-old's trainer, Nick Durandt, who said the boxer, who has battled to secure fights during his four-year tenure as the IBF champion, would have been “fighting for peanuts in Bangkok”.
Ruenroeng, who fought in the Beijing Olympic Games during his amateur career, was unbeaten in 12 bouts as a professional and ranked sixth by the IBF.
“After various deductions, Mthalane would have been left with something in the vicinity of R60 000 for his title defence,” Durandt said.
“This is a disgrace for a long-standing champion of his calibre.
“Instead, we have been promised a R1-million purse by KwaZulu Natal promoter Thulani Magudulela, guaranteed by the province's provincial administration, for a fight in Durban and we have decided to go along with this offer.”
The boxer who was not able to secure a single fight in 2013 despite being the champion of the IBF – one of boxing's four top controlling organisations – may now be poised to reap the rewards of his talent without a title.
“Obviously we will be looking for the Durban fight to give Moruti the chance of gaining a champion's belt again – whether that of the IBF or one of the other controlling bodies.
“But it is a bitter irony that while Moruti tried mightily to secure a worthwhile defence of his title in 2013 – with three proposed fight on the line being called off for one reason or another – he is now deprived of his title by virtue of the IBF's rule regarding mandatory defences.”
Mthalane, who became the IBF champion in 2009 with a victory over the much-vaunted Julio Cesar Miranda, has since only defended his title four times, his last fight being a crushing eighth-round tko win in Panama City against Ricardo Nunez in September 2012.
European champion Silvio Olteanu withdrew from two arranged fights against Mthalane in Germany last year, in which the purses following the IBF bidding procedure would have been among the lowest ever for a title fight of this calibre.
“It's a shame that Moruti has not gained the support of local promoters he so richly deserved in the past,” said Durandt.
“Promises, promises and more promises of fights is what we have come up against. At times, I have believed there was someone with some kind of personal conspiracy behind it all.
“Now we can only hold thumbs the KwaZulu offer comes to fruition. It's no more than Moruti deserves.” – Sapa