A long-awaited homecoming fight for Moruti Mthalane will no longer take place this weekend.
The reigning flyweight titlist is left without a fight for all of 2020, after his planned title defense versus Jayson Mama was abruptly canceled on Wednesday. The title fight was due to take place this Sunday in Mthalane’s hometown of KwaZulu-Natan, South Africa, but is no longer permitted to move forward due to event promoter Tono Promotions failing to meet the minimum standards required to proceed with the show.
“The tournament billed to stage the IBF World Flyweight Championship [defense] between Moruti Mthalane and Jayson Mama as the main bout and the WBA Middleweight Pan African title fight between Nkululeko Mhlongo and Walter Dlamini has been cancelled,” announced Boxing South Africa (BSA) in a letter issued to all involved parties, a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com. “BSA has done everything possible to save this tournament.
“[H]owever, on Friday 11 December 2020 it became evident to the federation that the Promoter has failed to meet basic requirements to enable BSA to sanction and give credibility to the event. The failure by the Promoter to meet basic tournament requirements has subsequently left BSA with no option but to cancel the tournament, however, affording the Promoter the opportunity to communicate the cancellation and further manage the consequences which regrettably, the Promoter has failed to equally do so.”
Mthalane (39-2, 26KOs) was due to make the fourth title defense of his current reign, which began one fight after his last home country appearance in October 2017. The 38-year old regained his old title following a 12-round win over unbeaten Muhammed Waseem in July 2018.
In his most recent fight, Mthalane turned away the challenge of former three-division champion Akira Yaegashi in a 9th round stoppage last July in Yokohama, Japan. The entirety of his current reign has taken place on the road, which makes this latest news that much more of a pre-holiday letdown.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Mike Altamura, Mthalane’s longtime manager told BoxingScene.com.
The bout was to mark the first career title challenge for Mama (15-0, 8KOs), a 23-year old from General Santos City, Philippines who has otherwise fought exclusively in Asia.
Plans to reschedule the fight are not quite yet in the cards, as the promoter of record has yet to publicly comment on the situation. An inquiry placed to Tono Promotions by BoxingScene.com seeking comment went unreturned as this goes to publish.
Instead, the dirty work is left up to the local commission “to once more extend its apology to all boxing stakeholders inclusive of KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Department of Sport and Recreation, SuperSport as the tournament broadcaster, members of the media, the public and various sponsors involved, not forgetting all BSA licensees affected by this cancellation including Jayson Mama and his team.
“As BSA, we remain committed to our stakeholders and the entire boxing fraternity and will apply the necessary corrective measures in ensuring that events and disappointments of such nature are earlier identified and dealt with for the growth and positive preservation of professional boxing in the country.”
Mthalane has won 16 straight fights, having not lost since a 6th round injury stoppage to then flyweight champion Nonito Donaire in November 2008. Among the scalps claimed in his current run include three-division and reigning bantamweight titlist Johnriel Casimero and former title claimants Yaegashi, Zolani Tete and Julio Cesar Miranda.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox