Mthalane ready to take down Yaegeshi
He has won enough battles on foreign soil to know that as much as they can shout, the supporters of his adversaries cannot get into the ring.
And so it will be without a care about the thousands of fans who will be cheering Yaegeshi on when he battles the Japanese legend in Yokohama today (1pm SA time).
“I’ve fought many times in many countries,” the IBF Flyweight world champion said before his departure for Asia. “When I defended this title for the first time, I fought out in Macau. My second defence was in Tokyo, Japan. And on both occasions I won despite the fact that the crowd was against me.”
Mthalane makes a third title defence knowing full well that he is South Africa’s sole proper world champion following Zolani Tete’s recent defeat by John Riel Casamero for his WBO Bantamweight title.
But he is not allowing that to put him under pressure.
“Of course there is always pressure. But for me it is not brought about by outside factors. I love being a world champion. I worked hard to become champion and the pressure I feel is from within, to ensure that I don’t return to being just an ordinary boxer but to stay as a world champion. I have to pay the bills, hey.”
A legend boxing locally, having been in the sport since 2000 and beaten only twice in 40 fights - Mthalane is a true role model, a disciplined superstar who has not allowed the fame to go to his head.
His trainer Colin Nathan is in awe of the 37-year-old: “Moruti’s discipline is second to none. He is consistently training and hardly ever gains weight. I think he is one of few boxers who really understands that this is his job. He respects everything about it.”
Mthalane also respects his opponents and that is why he leaves nothing to chance when preparing for fights.
“Yaegeshi is a legend. He is a great boxer and I respect him. But we are both legends and I know I am going to beat him. Our preparations have gone very well.”
That much was evident as they put the final touches to their preparations at Nathan’s Hot Box Gym in Johannesburg, Mthalane looking super sharp and focused.
Today he puts it all on the line against the former three weight world champion who will definitely enjoy the backing of the thousands who will be at the arena.
But, as Mthalane knows only too well, there will be just the two of them in the ring - the third man being the referee.
“I am going to beat him,” Mthalane said without flinching.