Baby Face hails move to Nathan’s sta­ble

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Or­gan­i­sa­tion (IBO) fly­weight cham­pion Moruti “Baby Face” Mtha­lane says he does not re­gret join­ing Colin Nathan’s sta­ble.

He be­lieves his de­ci­sion will en­able him to get more fights be­fore he hangs up his gloves in three years’ time.

The 33-year-old, KwaZulu-Natal-born fighter, who is based in Jo­han­nes­burg, parted ways with his long-time men­tor Nick Du­randt last week be­fore the lat­ter of­fi­cially an­nounced his own re­tire­ment from box­ing. They had been to­gether for 12 years.

Baby Face last fought in De­cem­ber, when he beat Filipino Renz Rosia by an eighth-round tech­ni­cal knock­out in de­fence of his IBO crown at the Olive Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in Dur­ban. Be­fore then, Mtha­lane had put his cham­pi­onship belt on the line against Mex­i­can Odilon Zaleta, who he beat on points at the Dur­ban ICC in Oc­to­ber 2014. This was seven months af­ter he won the ti­tle. Baby Face be­lieves he will be more ac­tive now that he has teamed up with Nathan, whose pro­tégés in­clude for­mer World Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (WBA) and IBO uni­fied min­i­mumweight king Hekkie Budler and Sim­phiwe Khonco.

Mtha­lane was in a cheer­ful mood this week when City Press vis­ited him at his new home, the Hot Box Gym in Glen­hazel, a sub­urb of Jo­han­nes­burg. He was go­ing through some light ex­er­cises be­cause he had flu.

“I be­lieve I made the right de­ci­sion by join­ing Colin’s gym. I could no longer get fights while I was still with Nick, and this was be­gin­ning to af­fect my ca­reer,” said Mtha­lane.

“Nick and I de­cided I should join forces with the Hot Box sta­ble, where I will ob­vi­ously be kept busy.”

The for­mer In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion (IBF) cham­pion said he was hop­ing to win the WBA cham­pi­onship be­fore calling it a day.

Nathan said he would like to see his charge have at least two big bouts this year.

“Baby Face is a dis­ci­plined and loyal fighter who needs to be kept as ac­tive as pos­si­ble be­fore he hangs up his gloves,” said the men­tor, who goes by the moniker No­makan­jani.

He said he had writ­ten to the World Box­ing Coun­cil and the WBA to ask the two sanc­tion­ing bod­ies to con­sider his charge for a higher rat­ing.

Mtha­lane won the then va­cant IBF ti­tle by beat­ing Mex­i­can Julio César Mi­randa thanks to a unan­i­mous points de­ci­sion at Wem­b­ley In­door Arena, Jo­han­nes­burg, in 2009.

He made four suc­cess­ful de­fences be­fore he was stripped of his crown in 2014. This hap­pened af­ter he pulled out of his manda­tory de­fence against Thai­land’s Am­nat Ruen­ro­eng, the cur­rent IBF king­pin.

PHO­TOS: TEBOGO LETSIE

BUSY Moruti Mtha­lane hits a punch­ing bag at the Hot Box Gym, which he has just joined

NEW TEAM Moruti Mtha­lane and his trainer, Colin Nathan, have a bright fu­ture to­gether

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