Cagliary - South Africa's Moruti Mthalane successfully defended his IBF flyweight title for a third time as he stopped home favourite Andrea Sarritzu in the seventh round on Friday.
Sarritzu put up a courageous battle but was left reeling midway through the seventh round and, after the referee intervened, the Italian threw in the towel.
Mthalane won the belt with a points victory against Julio Cesar Miranda in November, 2009, and retained it by defeating Zolani Tete and Johnriel Casimero, stopping both in the fifth round.
Sarritzu (32-4-5, 12 KOs) went further than both of them, but was unable to get the better of the South African, whose record improves to 28-2 (19 KOs).
The bout got off to a tense start with Sarritzu particularly cagey, given Mthalane's record.
However, the Sardinian managed to land a good right jab halfway through the first round, much to the home crowd's delight, as well as another significant blow at the end of the round.
Sarritzu was ducking and diving to avoid Mthalane's punches, and the 35-year-old didn't stop moving. However, as the fight went on, Mthalane was landing more blows, including several good combinations at the end of the third round.
And the 29-year-old started to really make Sarritzu feel the pain in the fourth.
Sarritzu started to attack more at the beginning of the fifth but swiftly found himself once again on the back foot.
He was managing to get in a few jabs, but was suffering too much from Mthalane's powerful lefts and eventually had to concede defeat.