By Jake Donovan
The past year was huge for the lower weight classes, particularly for the flyweight division. Hernan “Tyson” Marquez and Brian Viloria both entered the title fray in a big way, their names plastered all over Year-End categories as a result.
Lineal champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam continues his stranglehold on the flyweight crown, a belt that boasts the longest current lineage in the sport, dating back to Miguel Canto’s title reign in the early 1970’s sans interruption.
The term “unification” has been discussed by each of the aforementioned, even if the likelihood of it occurring isn’t particularly great given the division’s history.
One fighter who would like to make such talk a reality is the only titlist among the bunch whose name hasn’t been mentioned by the others – Moruti Mthalane.
The South African has managed five straight wins since his last defeat, a heartbreaking 6th round cuts-induced stoppage at the hands of Nonito Donaire more than three years ago. Mthalane (28-2, 19KO) gave the talented Filipino all he could handle before suffering a fight-ending cut ruled to be caused by a punch in the 6th round.
“His only loss in the past six years came against the excellent Nonito Donaire, who is on record stating the fight was the toughest of his career,” notes promoter Branco Milenkovich, whose fighters enjoyed a huge 2011 campaign. “The fight was so close that the IBF reinstated Moruti as the mandatory. Donaire wasn’t interested in a rematch and instead moved up.”
Mthalane stayed put and patiently waited his turn. The efforts have proven worthwhile, as including among his current win streak is a vacant-title snatching effort in a dominant performance over Julio Cesar Miranda two years ago in his native South Africa. Mthalane since defended his alphabet belt three times, with each bout ending in knockout and none lasting longer than seven rounds.
His most recent ring appearance came this past October, traveling to Italy in scoring a 7th round knockout over Andrea Sarritzu. The bout marked one of just two times Mthalane has fought outside of his native South Africa.
However, for the right fight in 2012, the 29-year is willing to update his passport and board a plane for anywhere in the world.
“I see that Viloria is looking for Wonjongkam and other fighters. It speaks volumes that all of the other flyweight champion speak about unification but none mention me,” noted Mthalane (28-2, 19KO), who currently serves as the division’s longest reigning titlist.
The resurgent flyweight feels slighted by the snub, confident that it has to do with his ability to overcome prior career adversity. With unification clearly on his mind in 2012, Mthalane offers what he believes to be more than a fair compromise.
“If I have to go to Thailand to face Wonjongkam, or Mexico to face Marquez, I’ll do it,” Mthalane insists, despite his own drawing power in South Africa. “If Viloria is interested, he’s welcome to come to the table as well. I want all of the belts in 2012. That is my goal, no matter where I have to go or however I have to get those guys in the ring.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]