Mthalane shows his prowess in Yokohama
Moruti Mthalane's status as a South African sporting legend can no longer be in doubt, not after his heroics in Yokohama yesterday.
In successfully defending his IBF flyweight title via a ninth-round technical knockout of Japanese former three-weight division champion Akira Yaegashi, Mthalane ensured he completed the decade as Africa’s sole bonafide world champion.
Surely now a unification bout with any of the other three flyweight title holders should be the next logical step for the 37-year-old boxer from Pietermaritzburg. A bout with any of Kosei Tanaka (WBO), Artem Dalakian (WBA) or Roy Martinez (WBC) would be a blockbuster of note, wouldn’t it?
Come January Mthalane and his trainer Colin Nathan must surely put the unification bout wheels in motion. And given the manner in which he dismantled Yaegeshi, Mthalane should be able to mix it up with any of the trio.
Typically, he started yesterday’s fight a little slow with Yaegeshi the aggressor and in control of the initial two rounds. But once he warmed up, the man affectionately called Babyface showed his prowess and it was evident who the champion in the square ring was.
The fight literally turned in the seventh round when Mthalane’s left jab and combination punches took over and wearied Yaegeshi down.
How the Japanese stayed on his feet in the eighth round was tantamount to a miracle, Mthalane connecting him with a multitude of punches to the extent that Yaegeshi wound up sitting on the second lowest rope.
There was no such luck for Yaegeshi in the ninth round though. Sure he started well and looked to be keeping Mthalane at bay, but the South African was merely biding his time and once he connected it was as though a floodgate of punches had been opened.
Mthalane connected with a straight right that turned Yaegeshi’s legs to jelly and the champion was not going to allow the opportunity to end the fight pass him by.
He forced the Japanese against the ropes with several more punches and referee Mario Gonzalez just could not allow for the punishment to continue. He stepped in to hand Mthalane a TKO victory with just four seconds of the round remaining.
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