By Ron Jackson
Former IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane will be hoping to win his second “world” title when he meets Filipino Jether Oliva for the vacant IBO flyweight belt at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban on Saturday night. Mthalane, 31, possibly the best fighter pound-for-pound in South Africa relinquished his IBF belt when his management could not come to terms to defend the belt when offered a ridiculously low purse.
Very little is known about the 26-year-old Oliva (20-1-2, 10 KOs) who is ranked at 98 by the IBO and has been fighting as a pro for seven years. The seasoned Mthalane (29-2, 20 KOs) returns to the ring for the first time since he successfully defended the IBF belt against Ricardo Nunez in Panama City on September 1, 2012.
The South African who is rated at number one by the IBO made his pro debut in December 2000 and won the South African flyweight title in August 2006 when he knocked out Akhona Aliva in the sixth round. He made two successful defenses of the SA title before capturing the vacant WBC International flyweight belt with a first round stoppage win over Apol Suico in September 2007.
After another successful defense of the SA title he beat Hussein Hussein in an IBF title eliminator to meet the highly rated Nonito Donaire for the IBF and IBO flyweight belts. After holding his own against Donaire the fight was stopped due to a cut on his eyelid which many thought was not that serious when he was on his way to upsetting Donaire.
On November 20 2009 Mthalane won the vacant IBF flyweight belt with an impressive 12 round points victory over Mexican Julio Cesar Miranda and made four successful defences of the belt before being stripped by the IBF.
Oliva remained undefeated through his first18 fights against relatively unknowns in his own country before travelling to Guadalajar, Mexico to challenge Ulises Solis for the IBF light flyweight belt, only to be beaten by wide margins. Since that loss he has won three and fought to a draw in matches against fighters with poor records.
The odds are stacked against Oliva and unless Mthalane has suffered through 19 months of inactivity he should have the experience to take the decision and the belt.
In the main supporting bout, 42-year-old South African middleweight champion Christopher Buthelezi (21-12-3, 9 KOs) who has only had one fight since September 2011 returns to action when he defends his title against the relative novice Giovanni Busby.
The 28-year Busby from Willow Park, East London has a reported record of 4-2-1, 3 KOs and is listed at number two in the most recent Boxing SA rankings.
The tournament is presented by Pat Molefe of Rainbow Promotions in conjunction with Thulani Magudulela