Moruti Mthalane heads to Tunisia to avoid quarantine ahead of his IBF title defence
● Moruti Mthalane will head to Tunisia in the next few days to finish his training camp ahead of his IBF flyweight title defence in London on April 30.
That is the only way to legally avoid England’s mandatory 10-day quarantine facing airline passengers from SA, said his trainermanager Colin Nathan.
“We’re a red-zone country and we would have had to quarantine at our hotel in London for 10 days. From Tunisia there’s no quarantine.”
Mthalane, the only SA boxer to hold a bona fide world title, faces unbeaten Briton Sunny Edwards, the younger brother of former WBC champion Charlie Edwards.
Ten days out of training would have been disastrous for Mthalane.
“I’ll need to train that side,” said Mthalane. “I don’t want something that will disturb me mentally because if you’re not training it eats you inside here,” he said, tapping on his head.
Mthalane will be accompanied by sparring partner Cayden Truter, the juniorlightweight prospect. “He’s quick, he’s elusive, he’s very similar to Sunny,” said Nathan.
Mthalane likes to complete his sparring only a week before a fight. “You can’t go into a fight with no sparring for two, three weeks.
“Normally when I fight overseas we leave SA one week before the fight but now because of Covid we have to leave early.”
Nathan is hoping to fly out on Tuesday or, failing that, on Thursday. “We’ll be in Tunisia for 10 days and then fly to London.”
This will be the sixth title defence abroad for Mthalane, placing him second behind only Brian Mitchell, who made all 12 defences of his WBA junior-lightweight belt overseas.
Whereas Mitchell was forced to defend outside SA because of the sports boycott against apartheid, Mthalane has been in an economic exile of sorts — it seems nobody here can afford him.
Mthalane, who last fought in late 2019, was supposed to fight in Durban last December, but the fight was cancelled just days before the tournament.
“My heart was so broken after all the hard work I did,” recalled Mthalane.
“To learn four days before the fight it was off, at least they should have told me earlier. I was very upset. I do believe as us boxers — I know a lot of things happen in boxing and it’s difficult for promoters too — but I think it’s better they tell us maybe three or four weeks before the fight,” said Mthalane.
He won the IBF crown in 2009 but was stripped in 2014 for inactivity after refusing to accept a paltry purse offer.
He regained the belt in 2018.
“I’ve been through a lot in my career, but I’m strong. I’ll take it like a man, I don’t want it to destroy me. The past is the past and I look forward to the future.”
Edwards will be Mthalane’s fourth defence in his second reign, and eighth overall.