By Carlos Costa
Filipino warrior Jether Oliva embarks in the most important endeavor of his life: his battle for the vacant IBO Flyweight (112 lbs) World Title against dangerous former champion Moruti "Baby Face" Mthalane (29-2, 20 KO's) on Saturday March 15 at Durban International Convention Centre in South Africa.
The 26 year-old Jether Oliva (20-1-2, 10 KO's) departs for the coastal city of Duban in eastern South African together with his experienced team comprised of his long time promoter Jim Claude Manangquil of Gensan, co-promoter Dexter Tan of Sanman Promotions and head coach Renie Gabawa.
The team initiate travel today (March 8) via Hong Kong, scheduled to arrive in the land of the glorious Nelson Mandela on Sunday (March 9) aboard Cathay Pacific flight CX 902. It's a trip filled with faith, confidence and optimism.
"In my heart, we have confidence in Jether Oliva's chances against Mthalane. Our boy has skills, youth and heart. We go to South Africa to win and bring glory to our country, the Philippines," said manager Jim Claude Manangquil prior to the departure.
"I must say that our fighter has prepared for this battle for weeks. Jether has trained hard. More than 100 rounds of sparring. We are ready for action and weight is the appropriate 1 week before battle. The fight is for the 112 lbs world title. Before, the best weight for Jether Oliva was 108 lbs. But Jether has grown some during the past year. I am positive that he will be fast and strong in South Africa." shared Manangquil.
Meanwhile, the 31 year-old hard-hitting former IBF world champion Moruti "Baby Face" Mthalane - who violently stopped then challenger (now IBF 108 lbs champ) Johnriel Casimero in five rounds back in 2011 at Nasrec Arena, near Soweto - patiently awaits for another Filipino to scalping. At least, that is what he wants.
Will veteran slugger Moruthi "Baby Face" Mthalane be able to beat up Jether Oliva to capture the IBO Flyweight world title?
Mthlane's trainer-manager, Nick Durandt think so as he bets on his fighter's conditioning, punching power and experience; though the former IBF World Champion has been out of the ring since September of 2012 when he knocked out Panamanian Ricardo "El Matemático" Núñez at the Roberto Duran Arena in Panama City, Panama.
However, earlier this year Mthalane was stripped of his International Boxing Federation (IBF) 112-pound world title after he pulled out of his defence against challenger Amnat Ruenroeng of Thailand, a battle due to be staged by the end of last year. At the time, Mthalane and his team considered the purse to be too low for him and fight was cancelled, a development that prompted the IBF to remove the belt from Mthalane's waist.
That's why Mthalane aims at the vacant IBO world crown, a crown Jether Oliva wants too.
"Mthalane is a very good boxer. Experienced in world title fights and tough as can be. It will be a rough-rough battle. But, as I say, Jether has been training hard and is motivated and ready to claim that world title.
"In my mind, Jether is 5 years younger and has been more active. Plus, Jether is a fresher boxer. As part of the preparations, we have been watching Moruti Mthalane's fights, especially his last one.
"We watched that in his last fight in Panama Mthalane went down and was saved by the bell at the end of tough round 3. Mthalane wobbled down in that fight... almost out . But he managed to win. It was a good fight.
"If Oliva gets Mthalane with a good punch, Mthalane would go down again. I know that Oliva's punch can inflict damage. I have managed Jether Oliva since he was still a teenager. So I know that Oliva can box and can hit hard.
"I know what Oliva has. I was his manager for his first 15 pro fights. But we parted ways. Then, he came back after his loss to Mexican veteran Ulises "Archie" Solis. Like the prodigal son, he returned and he has been doing great. So I am double-happy to assist him and guide him and now I take him to South African to fight for the world title."
According to the International Boxing Organization (IBO), at the sound of the bell, the referee in charge will be Grzegorz Molendao of Poland and the IBO supervisor will be the veteran man of boxing Len Hunt of South Africa.
Watch highlights VIDEO of Moruthi Mthalane's last fight in which he visited the canvas, being saved by the bell in round 3. It was Mthalane's successful 4th world title defense against challenger Ricardo "El Matemático" Núñez at the Roberto Duran Arena in Panama City Panama.