By Jake Donovan
Moruti Mthalane has touted himself as the only remaining current world champion from South Africa, but that statement no longer holds true.
The long-reigning flyweight titlist is forced to vacate his crown after recently pulling out of a planned defense versus Amnat Reunroeng on the road in Bangkok, Thailand.
"He will relinquish the IBF title. We will make an announcement regarding the status of his upcoming fight at home," Thulani Magudulela, Mthalane's promoter
told Business Day in South Africa
. "We are doing this to assist Mthalane, who has gone through a lot as a fighter earning peanuts.
"Moruti remains the only world champion here, yet he is unable to fight at home."
The latter statement only rings half true. In pulling out of the bout, Mthalane is forced to give up the belt he won more than four years ago, but has since only defensed four times.
His last fight and title defense came in an 8th round knockout of Panama's Ricardo Nunez in Sept. 2012. Both fighters hit the canvas early before Mthalane scored the knockout win on the road in Panama, his second straight road trip in defending his title.
Mthalane's last fight in his native South Africa came in March '11, scoring a 5th round knockout of former 108 lb. titlist Johnriel Casimero. The majority of his career has in fact taken place at home, but remains a distant memory with his last appearance coming nearly three years ago. Three of his 31 career bouts have taken place in the road, most notably his brave showing in a 6th round injury stoppage loss to Nonito Donaire in 2008.
Still, three years since your last hometown appearance can be tough. Two separate bouts were on the table for 2013, but both fell through due to an assortment of reasons. A planned title defense versus Silvio Olteanu was scheduled for last October in Germany, but scrapped when the challenger suffered an injury during training camp.
At the time, the cancellation was viewed as a blessing in disguise by Mthalane.
"My initial reaction was to hit the ceiling," Mthalane said of the fight, for which he was to earn a mere $8,555 to travel from South Africa to Germany.
For most fighters in Mthalane's situation, the possession of an alphabet title would be viewed as their lone bargaining chip. However, the 30-year old boxer has been assured of greener pastures in the foreseeable future.
"I have found a sponsor for Moruti and I can safely announce that he will be paid over R1m (USD$100,000) for his fight at home," Magudulela promises.
Tags: Moruti Mthalane
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox