Mthalane defence postponed
Nick Durandt (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Moruti Mthalane, the only South African who holds a title of one of the world's four premier boxing associations, has had his mandatory IBF flyweight title defence in Germany against Romanian-born Spaniard Silvio Olteanu postponed for more than a month.
German promoters SES, who secured the rights to stage Mthalane's defence at an unusually low purse bid of R110 000 - of which the champion receives 75 per cent - have said the sanctioned postponement from next Friday to October 19 is due to obtaining a date for for the tournament to be televised.
But an incensed Nick Durandt, Mthalane's voluble trainer, said he believed the postponement is part of a conspiracy that has its roots "right here in South Africa.
"I predicted the fight would not take place on September 13, long before the postponement was announced," said the outspoken trainer, "becuse I was well aware of the manipulations that were taking place behind the scenes - and were basically directed at me and my fighters."
Durandt said he would now have to give Mthalane a week's break from training so that he "comes into the ring in the best physical and mental condition.
He pointed out that no South African promoter had taken part in the IBF bidding process for the fight.
"Mthalane is one of South Africa's top internationally rated boxers and possibly the best," said Durandt, "yet no local promoter was prepared to lay out a R110 000 purse in order to allow him the chance of making a title defence in his own country for the first time since March 2011. "Now Moruti has to travel to a foreign country for the fourth time to make his fifth title defence for what will be a pittance of less than R100 000, his share of the R110 000 purse - and this says a lot about the state of boxing in South Africa.
The fight in Germany will now be staged in Leipzig's Messehalle as the main supporting bout to the WBO's super middleweight title fight between Robert Stieglitz and Isaac Ekpo. In all, Mthalane, who is rated fourth best flyweight in the world by the authoratative Ring magazine and boasts a record of 29 wins from 31 fights, has only defended his title four previous times in four years.
"There is generally a shortage of money in South African boxing," added Durandt, "and fighters of Moruti's ability are not getting their just rewards.
"Ideally Mthalane should be defending his title in South Africa, but the truth of the matter is that mainly for financial reasons we now have to travel overseas again - although I'm sure we'll do what is required and return with the title once more.
"Moruti has shown he has the talent and steel nerve to hold onto his title wherever he defends," said Durandt.