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Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Flyweight Mthalane gambles, loses

By Dan Rafael

Moruti Mthalane has not lost since being stopped in the sixth round of a flyweight world title fight by Nonito Donaire in 2008. He is one of the best 112-pounders in the world, but not one of the smartest.

Since that loss, Mthalane (29-2, 20 KOs), 30, of South Africa, has gone on to win a world title, but he has fought only six times since facing Donaire. He won a world title in 2009 but made only one defense in 2010, two in 2011 and one in 2012. He has yet to fight in 2013.

With the boxing business in the dumps in South Africa, largely because of the lack of television commitment, Mthalane was forced to go on the road for his past two defenses, which took place in Italy and Panama.

Recently, Mthalane rolled the dice on his upcoming mandatory defense against Italy’s Silvio Olteanu (14-6-1, 6 KOs), the 35-year-old European champion who lost a split decision in his only world title shot (to Daiki Kameda in Japan in 2010).

Mthalane gambled that if he turned down a $50,000 offer (and the renewal of his promotional agreement) from South African promoter Branco Milenkovic that he would make more when the bout with Olteanu was put up for a purse bid.

Mthalane lost and lost badly.

Ulf Steinforth’s SES Promotions was the only bidder at the recent auction for the promotional rights and won them for a paltry $12,500.

With the purse split set at 85 percent for the titleholder and 15 percent for the challenger, that means that Mthalane is entitled to just $10,625 with Olteanu getting a stunningly small purse of $1,875. Prospects in four-rounders often make more than Olteanu will get, much less a fighter in a world title bout.

SES intends to put on the fight and has already submitted the 20 percent down payment to the IBF. Signed contracts are due back to the IBF by Aug. 2 and the fight is supposed to take place by Oct. 18.

Mthalane would have been much better served to accept a purse more than four times larger than what he will get now. On top of that, the bout would have been in South Africa. Now, Mthalane will undoubtedly have to travel to Europe again.

“We offered him new contract and $50,000 to do the fight in South Africa,” Milenkovic said. “He turned it down as he thought he will get much more with the purse bid. This is the reason for no South African promoter bidding for his fight. No promoter will go with a huge investment without a commitment from the boxer.”