Indomitable pocket-sized boxing warrior Moruti “Baby Face” Mthalane continues reaping fruits for his hard and painful, but ultimately sweet labour.
The reigning IBF flyweight champion’s heroism last year has earned him the special achievement award from the IBF.
Mthalane, 37, defended his belt more than three thousands of kilometres away from home last year, defeating Japanese prospect Masahiro Sakamoto in Macao (TKO 10), seasoned Japanese champion Mayasuki Kuroda (unanimous points over 12 rounds) and former three-weight champion Akira Yaegashi (TKO 9). All fights took place in Japan.
“I did not expect this,” he said. He won the IBF belt in Kuala Lumpur in 2018.
“I feel proud to have flown the South African flag higher. Ngingathi nje ngiyabonga kubaphathi bami. I am looking forward to making another defence.”
His elated trainer Colin Nathan said: “Moruti has given me my finest and memorable moments in boxing. When he joined me in 2015 some people said I was wasting my time because of his age.
“But he went on to win the IBF belt and has defended it against three top challengers in their backyards. I will be shocked if he does not win BSA’s Boxer of the Year Award, and I have no doubt he will inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in New York.”
Mthalane remains undefeated after 11 years since he lost to then IBF champion Nonito Donaire in Last Vegas in 2008.
Mthalane has won all 16 fights consecutively, with 11 stoppages. He has been a professional boxer for 20 years.
Meanwhile, Rumble Africa Promotions (RAP) of Thembalethu Ntuthu was voted IBF Africa’s most active boxing promotion company of the year. The East London-based company won the same trophy last year.
RAP CEO Nomfesane Nyatela said: “It’s so gratifying to get recognition for what you do with love despite the challenges and at times the tribulations we go through. Forward we go.”
The IBF Continental Africa junior lightweight title fight, staged by RAP at East London’s Orient Theatre in September, was voted IBF Africa’s Fight of the Year.