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Moruti Mthalane: Nothing will stop me defending my title against Sunny Edwards

Moruti Mthalane and his trainer, Colin Nathan. Photo by Brian Wysoke
26
Apr

South Africa’s Moruti Mthalane will look to defend his IBF flyweight title against Sunny Edwards at the famed York Hall arena in London on Friday.

Mthalane, who is rated No. 1 by The Ring at 112 pounds, once spent time with Edwards, when the pair helped WBA flyweight titleholder Artem Dalakian at a training camp in the Ukraine. They have remained cordial ever since and there’s plenty of mutual respect.

“I know Sunny Edwards very well, I met him in 2018, he’s my good friend,” Mthalane (39-2, 26 knockouts) told The Ring.

“I know he’s still an up-and-coming boxer. He’s a little bit awkward; he moves, he switches sometimes from southpaw to orthodox, he’s a really good boxer. I don’t think, to be honest, he’s ever fought somebody on my level. I’m ready for the fight. Nothing will stop me defending my title against Sunny Edwards.”

Mthalane regained the IBF title by posting a 12-round unanimous decision over Muhammad Waseem in July 2018 and he has made three defenses.

The seasoned boxer-puncher was due to make a rare home appearance last December, against Jayson Mama, however, the local promoter failed to reach the minimum requirements and the show was abruptly cancelled.

“It was frustrating, it was like four or five days before the fight,” lamented Mthalane. “Those things happen in boxing. I took it like a professional, I understood what went on. I took time to rest and at the beginning of the year I was back in the gym.”

Mthalane will be fighting for the first time in 16 months and he is now 38 years old. However, trainer Colin Nathan was quick to jump in at the notion of any drop off from his veteran fighter.

“Why don’t you [tell] that to the three other guys who came to try to take his title off him?” said Nathan. “Moruti is a fucking freak of nature. He has been nasty in sparring of late. He’s on point. You say 16 months of inactivity, but we had a dress rehearsal for December that fucked up on us.

“He’s been in the gym, we’ve known about this [fight] for a long time, and he’s looking sharp and accurate. His combinations are flowing, his weight is good, he’s a very disciplined fighter. In fact his work ethic is probably the best I’ve ever seen in my career. It’s at the point where I actually have to slow him down. I think that’s the longevity factor for him – he lives clean and trains like a beast.”

Mthalane defended his IBF flyweight title for the third time against Akira Yaegashi. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

To prepare for Edwards, Mthalane has sparred with the likes of  former two-division titleholder Hekkie Budler and former 105-pound title challenger Simpiwe Konkco, as well as rising young fighters Ricardo Malajika and Cayden Truter.

Mthalane and his team left South Africa, a COVID-19 red zone, on April 15 and travelled to Tunisia, which is a green zone. They spent 10 days there before continuing on to the U.K.

While Mthalane is in relaxed mood ahead of the Edwards challenge, Nathan was bullish with regards what he would like his fighter to achieve during this Indian summer stage of his career.

“Obviously, we’ve got to perform on April 30,” said Nathan. “Sunny’s a really good, talented, young fighter. He’s a world class operator, great boxer, great footwork, but there’s levels in boxing and Moruti is going to prove that. Thereafter we’d have the discussion, but, right now, we’re focused on Sunny.

“It’s one fight at a time, but this is the last phase of his career, which I believe is [going to be] the most successful. I would love to finish up his career with a unification and I would love it to be for The Ring belt.

“He’s not just a great South African world champion, he’s a world champion for Africa. He’s one of the all-time African greats. It’s a privilege and an honor to be by his side at this stage of his career, being a world champion for the second time, unbeaten for close to 13 years. On April 30 nothing is going to change, he’ll still be unbeaten for 13 years.”

Edwards, who hails from London, turned professional in 2016. He picked a brace of fringe titles before claiming the British junior bantamweight championship by outpointing Marcel Braithwaite (UD 12) in December 2019. The 25-year-old also holds a win over Thomas Essomba (UD 12), but this will be his first foray into world class. Edwards (15-0, 4 KOs) bids to join his brother Charlie, who annexed a WBC belt in 2018, as a flyweight world titleholder.

Mthalane-Edwards, plus undercard action, will be broadcast on ESPN+ in the U.S. and BT Sport in the U.K.

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright

 

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