By Ron Jackson
South Africa’s Moruti Mthalane has a tough assignment when he defends his IBF flyweight belt against mandatory challenger Ricardo Nunez from Panama at the Arena Roberto Duran in Panama City tonight. The 29-year-old Mthalane (28-2, 19 KOs) won the belt in November 2009 and has made successful defences against Zolani Tete (tko 5), Johnriel Casimero (tko 5) and in his most recent fight on October 28, 2011 he stopped Andrea Sarritzu in the seventh round. The talented South African’s only two losses have come against Nkqubela Gwazela in September 2003 when he was stopped in the tenth round and against the highly rated Nonito Donaire in November 2008 when challenging for the IBF and IBO flyweight belts. The fight against Donaire was stopped on cuts in the sixth round and many were of the opinion that Mthalane was beginning to take control of the fight at that stage and could have upset Donaire.
The 24-year-old challenger has won 24 fights with 20 coming inside the distance and only lost 2 since making his professional debut in June 2006. His only losses which both came inside the distance were against William De Sousa in March 2007 and Drian Francisco in April 2010. After the loss to Francisco he dropped down to the flyweight division from super flyweight and has had seven fights with five wins inside the distance, one on points and one on a disqualification. Nunez is an aggressive fighter with power in both hands but he does have a leaky defence at times which could prove costly against the accurate counter punching of the South African. However, Nunez who is the harder puncher will have the backing of the home crowd and can prove to be dangerous throughout
Tete vs Sosa
Also on Saturday night at the Polideportivo Carlos Cerutti, Cordoba in Argentina, South Africa’s Zolani Tete 16-2; 14 the IBF number five ranked junior bantamweight faces Roberto Domingo Sosa 23-0; 14 of Argentina who is at number three, in an IBF eliminator, with the winner to meet champion Juan Carlos Sanchez Jr. from Mexico. Tete, 24, is a good defensive fighter with an effective southpaw jab whereas the 27-year-old Sosa is not as mobile but does have a good right hand. Even though Sosa is unbeaten he has not fought outside Argentina and at the same level as the South African.