By Ron Jackson
In a hard-fought contest South Africa’s Moruti Mthalane fighting with a badly swollen left eye from the first round won the vacant IBO flyweight belt when he beat Filipino Jether Oliva on a 12 round split decision at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban on Saturday night. The scores were 117-112 and 116-112 for Mthalane and 115-113 for Oliva.
After a slow start Mthalane (50,74kgs) fighting from behind a tight defence weathered some heavy shots to the head that got through from Oliva 50,54kgs) in the early rounds to come on strong in the last four rounds to take a deserved decision.
The 31-year-old South African, who is ranked at number one by the IBO, received a harder fight from the number ninety eight ranked Oliva, 26, than expected.
Mthalane a former IBF flyweight champion improved his record to 30-2; 20 and Oliva saw his record drop to 20-2-2; 10.
The referee was Grzejgorz Molenda from Poland and the judges were Danrex Joseph V. Tapoa (Philippines), Allen Matakane (South Africa) and Terry O’Connar (UK).
On the undercard, in another hard-fought contest veteran South African middleweight champion Gideon Buthelezi ,42, was just too strong and experienced for the younger Giovanni Bushby, 28, as he won on a 12 round unanimous points decision by wide margins.
The scores were 120-111; 117-111 and 120-108.
Buthelezi takes his record to 22-13-3; 9 and Bushby’s reported record drops to 4-3-1; 3.
The tournament was presented by Pat Molefe of Rainbow Promotions in conjunction with Thulani Magudulela.