Tomorrow we'll all be able to see a new IBF Flyweight champion being crowned, as former chamoion Moruti Mthalane (35-2, 24) attempts to reclaim the title he once held, whilst Korean based Pakistani fighter Muhammad Waseem (8-0, 6) looks to become a world champion, and give boxing a huge boost in both Pakistan and Korea.
The two men both made weight at their weigh in with no issues. On the scales Mthalane was around 111.5lbs, comfortably under the 112lb limit, whilst Waseem was even lighter at close to 111.25lbs, a caeer lowest weight.
The South African fighter has typically weighed between 111lbs and 112lbs through out his career, so his weight fits into what is expected for him, and he really is a career Flyweight who has never out grown the division. A rarity in this day and age. To show how consistent he has been he has only been over 112lbs once in his career, and that was way back in April 2001, in what was his 4th professional bout. Since then he has never been under 110lbs or over 112lbs. However at the age of 35 he is ancient for a Flyweight and will be well aware that he can't afford a loss if he's to remain relevant in the world of professional boxing.
Waseem on the other hand has had weight vary quite a bit. He debuted in a Korean Bantamweight title bout, weighing in at 118lbs before moving down to Super Flyweight and then Flyweight. His last 3 bouts have however come at Super Bantamweight and Bantamweight as he's looked to stay busy in Panama whilst awaiting a world title fight. At 30 he's no spring chicken, but certainly isn't an old man, and a loss, whilst it would harm his career, would certainly not be the end of his career, though would make it even harder to get the funding from the Pakistan Government that he has long battled for.
Interestingly the bout has been picked up by a number of bookmakers, who have viewed the bout as being very close to a 50-50 contest. The younger man is the slight favourite, with bookies offering around 10/11 on Waseem to pick up what would be a career defining. Mthalane on the other hand is best priced at 15/13. Notably some bookies have priced both men at less than evens, just to show how even they see the contest.
Related - Mthalane and Waseem clash for IBF crown!
Professional boxing can be a cray sport to involve yourself in at times. It can also be a wonderful one, with surprises, excitement, anticipation and some amazing times. One of those amazing times was waking up today to see that the bout sheet for the WBA Welterweight title bout between Filipino challenger Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38) and Argentinian champion Lucas Martin Matthysse (39-4-0-1, 36) had been released.
Not only had the bout list been made public but that it was set to be a special show with 3 really good bouts on it.
Two of those bouts had been known about for a while.
One was an IBO Featherweight title bout between unbeaten Filipino Jhack Tepora (21-0, 16) and once beaten Mexican Edivaldo Ortega (26-1-1, 12). This bout has the ingredients to be a very memorable fight with both men being exciting southpaws who come to fight. Tepora is currently riding a 5 fight stoppage run win includes a big KO last September against Lusanda Komanisi for the IBO's Inter-Continental strap, in what was Tepora's first fight outside of the Philippines. Ortega on the other hand has bounced back will from his sole loss, a 2016 defeat to Eduardo Ramirez, and comes into this bout on the back of wins over Tomas Rojas and Drian Francisco.
Another bout that had been in talks was an IBF Flyweight title bout between former champion Moruti Mthalane (35-2, 24) and Pakistani fighter Muhammad Waseem (8-0, 6). This bout was ordered originally as an eliminator but when Donnie Nietes left the division the title got put on the line and progress was made quickly to get it on this card. This should be a great test to see how good Waseem really is and what Mthalane has left. If the South African is half the fighter he was he is still a major threat at Flyweight whilst Waseem has promised a lot but has failed to get the financial backing needed to deliver on that promise.
Along with the bouts we already knew about was a huge surprise, stating that newly crowned WBA Light Flyweight champion Carlos Canizales (20-0-1, 16) would be defending his title against Chinese novice Lu Bin (1-0, 1) [呂斌]. Canizales won the title this past March, taking a very hotly contested decision win over Reiya Konishi in Japan and looked like a man who could box or bang in a really good fight. Bin on the other hand made his professional debut last September before returning to the amateur ranks and winning a Chinese national title earlier this year.
With a record of 1-0 going in to the fight Bin is looking to set a new male world record for the fewest fights to win a world title, breaking the joint record of Saensak Muangsurin and Vasyl Lomachenko. It is however a huge ask, no matter how good the Chinese fighter was in the amateurs and various AIBA off shoots of professional boxing, including the APB where he did win a world title. He is a divisional wildcard, given how strong his pedigree is, but this is still a monster test for the 23 year old from Jinan.
Although there is no date set for the bout it does look like the bout will take place during the summer, and will be a really high quality fight.
Mthalane is best known for his 2008 loss to Nonito Donaire, in which the South African talent gave Donaire fits. The loss to Donaire ended Mthalane's first IBF title reign, though he would reclaim the title in 2009 and reign supreme until vacating the title several years later. As the champion in his second reign Mthalane defended the title against Zolani Tete, John Riel Casimero, Andrea Sarritzu and Ricardo Nunez, showing just how good he was. In fact it's worth noting that Mthalane is unbeaten since losing to Donaire, going 12-0 (9) since that loss. At 35 years old however it's unclear really what he has left in the tank
The 30 year old Waseem was a former Pakistani amateur standout who signed professionally with Korean promoter Andy Kim. Under Kim's Guidance Waseem raced into the WBC world rankings, scoring notable wins over Jether Oliva and Giemel Magramo in 2016. After those wins it looked like Waseem was nailed on to get a shot at the WBC title, though funding issues and problems with the Pakistani government releasing money promised to the fighter prevented his team from getting a shot. Those problems have continued to the point that a bout with Daigo Higa, which both teams seemed excited by, is now dead in the water.
At the time of writing both of these fighters are ranked by the IBF in their top 5, though their rankings are set to be updated in the very near future.
Yesterday we saw WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (15-0, 15) [比嘉 大吾] score an opening round win over Moises Fuentes (25-5-1, 14) to record his second defense of the title. Today he took part in a press conference and mapped out some of his plans for the future.
The young sttaed he wanted to try and fight 3 more times this year. The next of those fights has been pencilled in for May and it seems like Higa and promoter Yoko Gushiken have arranged that bout to be against WBC #1 ranked challenger Pakistani Muhammad Waseem (8-0, 6) and will be a mandatory defense for the champion.
Higa is also hoping to have a unified title bout later this year, talking about frustrations at Kazuto Ioka's retirement and the fact that Higa had been wanting to fight the Osakan last year, to unify the WBC and WBA titles. As part of that aim he will be attending "Superfly 2" later this month, and appears to have eyes on the IBF title, which will be defended by Donnie Nietes (40-1-4, 22) as he takes on Argentinina's Juan Carlos Revecco (39-3, 19).
There was also talk about a contest with former WBO Minimumweight and Light Flyweight Kosei Tanaka (10-0, 6) [田中恒成] being a potential foe as Higa looks to get a big bout after his mandatory title fight.
Longer term the plan is try and make a defense in Okinawa a regular thing, and the Okinawa Cellular Stadium seemslikely to hold those bouts in the future, as well as a bout on foreign soil, with the US looking likely to host a fight of his in the the future. Interestingly he's also looking to score 20 consecutive KO's and become a "special champion".
Although there had been rumours of Higa vacating it seems those plans are hold. Higa did suggest his days at 112lbs are limited, but for now he's got plans to stay there and to stay busy, with a move up to Super Flyweight likely to now take place in 2019.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
This past Sunday we saw WBC Flyweight champion Daigo Higa (14-0, 14) [比嘉 大吾], record his first defense, forcing a stoppage of French challenger Thomas Masson (17-3-1, 5). Today Higa took part in a press confrence talking about the bout, and his future plans.
With his win on Sunday Higa has moved to being just a single stoppage away from the Japanese record for most successive stoppage wins. Interestingly he was joined at today's event by the man holding that record, Tsuyoshi Hamada, who wished Higa good luck in beating the record.
At the event Higa revealed that he was looking to return to the ring in early 2018, with January or February being reported as Higa's likely return. At the moment it's unclear who he will be facing, though from what Higa said it seems likely the bout will be in Okinawa and will bea home coming defense.
If Higa comes through his defense in early 2018 it seems likely he will be looking to make a mandatory defense in the summer, either May or June. There is however a chance that the WBC may order the champion to defend his title against a mandatory in early 2018, which would likely see Higa's plans change to accomodate the WBC's order.
Interestingly two names have been linked to Higa in recent weeks. One of those is Korean based Pakistani Muhammad Waseem (8-0, 6) whilst the other is Welshman Andrew Selby (10-0, 5).
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
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