After making a rugged second defense of his IBF flyweight championship title against Masayuki Kuroda in Japan last night, world champion Moruti Mthalane called out rival WBC champion Charlie Edwards for a unification showdown.
Mthalane was able to overcome a hostile crowd who packed out the famous Korakuen Hall, chanting Kuroda’s name throughout a frenzied, ferocious 12 rounds. The Japanese challenger brought his best game and applied pressure from beginning to end. His body-punching was outstanding, but he lacked the accuracy of Mthalane, whose counter-punching was razor-sharp. Time and again he rocked Kuroda on his heels.
The South African busted up his opponent’s face early in the fight and by the start of the 12th blood was pouring from around both eyes of the challenger.
Kuroda was far better and more willing than Mthalane and his camp believed he was capable of. He was able to find openings and played possum on occasion, roaring back after appearing to be rocked.
Mthalane himself was stunned by a big right hand in the 11th, but other than that he was well in control against a boxer who rose to the occasion. Fighting from behind a high guard, Mthalane repeatedly whipped in punches and was never better than when he let his hands go and landed combinations. Even at 36, his work rate is impeccable.
There were few complaints from the gracious challenger, whose bruised and bloodied features eloquently told the story of the fight.
“I watched the videos, but he was better than ever,” said an exhausted Mthalane. “I’m glad I prepared well and had the fight to beat him.”