Baby­face’s

IBO bout a boost for KZN

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za udonga Box­ing Pro­mo­tions’ boss Thu­lani Magud­ulela has a good feel­ing about to­day’s In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion (IBO) world ti­tle fly­weight fight at Dur­ban’s In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

LNa­tional hero Moruti “Baby­face” Mthalane will put his IBO fly­weight ti­tle on the line against tough Mex­i­can chal­lenger Odilon Zaleta at this venue. The feel-good fac­tor for Magud­ulela is that the bout will bring hon­our and pride to KwaZulu-Natal as the prov­ince will host its sec­ond top-class box­ing bout in a space of seven months. In March, Mthalane beat Filipino Jether Oliva on points at the same venue to snatch the IBO crown.

The fight will bring glory to the area be­cause of its sta­tus as a world cham­pi­onship fight. This bodes well for the am­bi­tious Magud­ulela who strives against all odds to take box­ing back to the peo­ple.

The down­side of to­day’s show­down is that most fans will not be able to watch their hero, Mthalane, in ac­tion on the SABC.

The pub­lic broad­caster’s TV black­out is giv­ing box­ing a black eye. The bout will only be beamed live by pay TV chan­nel Su­perS­port – a lux­ury that many box­ing fans can­not af­ford.

Magud­ulela, from Non­goma, a town in north­ern KwaZulu-Natal, is con­fi­dent that the box­ers will give a good ac­count of them­selves dur­ing the slugfest.

“Mthalane com­mands a great fol­low­ing in the prov­ince even though he comes from Gaut­eng. The tour­na­ment will def­i­nitely be great,” said Magud­ulela, who was voted best box­ing pro­moter in 2010.

“It’s a pity that many peo­ple won’t be able to see the fight live be­cause of the black­out. This is a real chal­lenge, but there’s noth­ing one can do.”

Mthalane is brim­ming with con­fi­dence and be­lieves he can make a suc­cess­ful ti­tle de­fence.

“Prepa­ra­tions for the fight have gone very well. The Mex­i­can is a banger who comes for­ward all the time, just like me. But I will be too good for him,” said Mthalane, who pre­dicts a knock­out win. Jo­han­nes­burg-born “Baby­face” has a record of 25 wins (16 knock­outs), and two losses in 27 pro­fes­sional fights. Zaleta has had 15 vic­to­ries and four de­feats in 19 out­ings.

Mthalane, the for­mer In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion fly­weight king­pin, had four suc­cess­ful ti­tle fights be­fore los­ing the crown in Jan­uary.

His men­tor, Nic Du­randt, is con­fi­dent of his boxer’s chances. “The chal­lenger is a tricky cus­tomer, but my guy will be too smart. We’ll give fans a good bout and keep the ti­tle at home,” said Du­randt.

PHOTO: LEFTY SHIVAMBU / GALLO IMAGES

ON GUARD Moruti Mthalane (left) blocks Zolani Tete in their IBF fly­weight ti­tle fight in Oc­to­ber last year. Mthalane de­fends his IBO crown against Mex­i­can Odilon Zaleta in Dur­ban to­day

PHOTO: MUZI ZIN­C­UME

THU­LANI MAGUD­ULELA

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