CAPE TOWN – Moruti Mthalane pulled out all the stops in the final round to make sure of winning the IBF flyweight title for the second time in his career in Malaysia this weekend.
The 35-year-old Mthalane came up against Pakistan’s Muhammad Waseem on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao WBA welterweight title bout against Lucas Matthysse, which the Filipino great won via a seventh-round knockout.
Mthalane’s ‘slow poison’ approach of left jabs and right-hand shots proved to be an effective strategy as he kept his guard up and found his way through Waseem’s defence in the early rounds.
But as the fight wore on, Waseem found his range and started landing a few solid punches when he did let rip at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur early on Sunday morning.
Mthalane’s trainer Colin Nathan urged his boxer to start moving his head out of the line of fire quicker, and his charge heeded the call and got going again from the seventh round.
Waseem, though, realised he needed to up the tempo and throw more punches if he was going to have any chance of winning, and appeared to get the upperhand in the second half of the bout.
It resulted in the South African’s eyes starting to swell up, and both eyes were almost closed shut at the end.
Mthalane also came out of his shell a bit more, landing a number of solid right hands to rock Waseem in the 10th round.
But the South African’s carefully constructed challenge appeared to unravel when he was caught by a big left hand from Waseem for a knockdown.
Mthalane survived, though, and got up before the end of the round.
The experienced Mthalane knew he had to attack Waseem in the 12th round to convince the judges, but it was the Pakistani who threw a flurry of punches at the start of the decider.
Mthalane recovered from the onslaught and landed some big punches himself in the remainder of the round to claim victory via a unanimous decision.
The judges scored the fight 114-113, 114-113 and 116-110.
Mthalane’s triumph sees him extend his record to 36-2, with 24 knockouts, while Waseem is now 8-1, with six KOs.@ashfakmohamed