At 35‚ world title challenger Mthalane is young by SA standards
Moruti Mthalane may be considered a little old for boxing at 35‚ but if he wins the vacant IBF flyweight title in Malaysia on Sunday he won’t be South Africa’s oldest world champion.
Not by a long shot.
Mthalane faces Muhammad Waseem in a bid to reclaim the same title he forfeited in 2013 after refusing to fight for a pittance abroad.
He was 27 when he first won the belt in 2009‚ but this time around the veteran‚ who will turn 36 in October‚ is on the verge of putting his name on the local all-time age list.
South Africa’s oldest winner of a mainstream world title belt is Sugarboy Malinga‚ who was 40 when he won the WBC super-middleweight crown for the first time in 1996‚ and 42 the second time in 1997.
Second is Simphiwe Nongqayi‚ who was 37 years and seven months when he stunned Mexican star Jorge Arce for the IBF super-flyweight title in 2009.
Third is Corrie Sanders who was 37 years and two months when he demolished Wladimir Klitschko for the WBO heavyweight crown in 2003.
And fourth is Mzonke Fana who was nearly 37 when he reclaimed the IBF junior-lightweight title in 2010.
The record of oldest boxing world champion first belonged to 22-year-old Vic Toweel — by default‚ as the country’s first and only world champion in 1950.
Then 30-year-old Arnold Taylor‚ South Africa’s second world champion‚ took that mantle in 1973 when he lifted the WBA bantamweight crown with his spectacular come-from-behind 14th-round knockout of Mexican Romeo Anaya.
Taylor ruled for nearly 30 years‚ until Baby Jake Matlala‚ then 31‚ stopped Pat Clinton for the WBO flyweight crown in 1993.
Matlala increased the age to 33 when beat Paul Weir for the WBO light-flyweight title in 1995.
Malinga dethroned Nigel Benn the following year.
Another notable toppie victory was achieved by Dingaan Thobela who was less than a month short of his 34th birthday when he won the WBC super-middleweight belt by a late stoppage of Glenn Catley.
Cassius Baloyi was 33 when he reclaimed the IBF junior-lightweight title from Fana in 2008.
Mthalane‚ with 35 wins and two losses‚ enjoys a substantial advantage over his 30-year-old opponent in terms of experience.
Waseem‚ who had a vast amateur career during which he won medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games‚ is unbeaten in eight paid bouts.
Mthalane has been 205 rounds in his career‚ while the Pakistani opponent has been 48.
They do have an opponent in common‚ Filipino Jether Oliva.
Mthalane beat him on a split decision in 2014 (the judge from Philippines scored it for his countryman)‚ while Waseem beat him by unanimous decision in 2016.
The winning margins for Waseem ranged from seven to 12 points and were far wider than they were for Mthalane‚ two and four points.
But don’t read much into that. Oliva might have been a spent force by the time he faced Waseem‚ having had seven bouts since the loss to Mthalane.
Mthalane and Waseem fight on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s WBA welterweight title shot against Lucas Matthysse.
Veteran South African official Stan Christodoulou is one of the judges for the main bout in Kuala Lumpur.
The tournament will be staged early to accommodate the US TV audiences.