Mthalane eyeing IBO crown
Johannesburg - Moruti Mthalane will fight Filipino Jether Oliva on March 15, at the Durban Convention Centre for the vacant International Boxing Organisation (IBO) title, said trainer Nick Durandt.
The announcement comes after Mthalane pulled out of a mandatory title defence against Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng and relinquished the International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight title in the process.
"To some this might seem an illogical contradiction, because in international boxing circles holding an IBF title is considered more prestigious than being in possession of the IBO belt," said Durandt.
However, he said this was simplifying as issue which was in fact about money.
"Had Moruti gone through with the fight in Bangkok, he would have fought for peanuts," said Durandt.
"After various deductions to a R100,000 purse, he would have been left with something in the vicinity of R60,000 for his title defence, which is a disgrace for a long-standing champion of his calibre.
"Instead, we have been guaranteed a R1 million pay-out by [KwaZulu-Natal] promoter Thulani Magudulela from the tournament, bank-rolled by the province's provincial administration, and that outweighs anything else."
Durandt said Mthalane remained in good standing with the IBF, which understood the motivations behind his decision to relinquish the title.
"In fact, I have just received correspondence from the IBF thanking Mthalane for his services to the organisation over many years and his impeccable behaviour as their champion."
The boxer was unable to secure a single fight in 2013, despite being the champion of one of boxing's four top controlling organisations, and was now poised to reap some of the rewards of his talent.
"Moruti tried mightily to secure a worthwhile defence of his IBF title in 2013, with three proposed fights on the line being called off for one reason or another, and leaving him without a single bout during the year."
Mthalane became the IBF champion in 2009, with a victory over the much-vaunted Julio Cesar Miranda.
He defended his title four times, with his last fight being a crushing eighth-round TKO win in Panama City against Ricardo Nunez in September, 2012.
Last year, European champion Silvio Olteanu withdrew from two arranged fights in Germany, in which the purses following the IBF bidding procedure would have been among the lowest-ever for a title fight of this calibre.
"Now we aim to belatedly cash in, starting with the Durban fight," said Durandt.
"Oliva is not the greatest flyweight in the world, with an IBO ranking of 36th. But his record of 19 wins and only a single defeat makes him a valid contender."