A flyweight unification clash between IBF holder Moruti Mthalane and WBC ruler Julio Cesar Martinez inched a step closer to reality this week when the South African told Boxing Social he would relish the opportunity. But should that fight not materialise, Jay Harris and Sunny Edwards are other intriguing options for the South African, according to Mthalane’s management group MTK Global.
A Martinez-Mthalane fight was first suggested by the Mexican’s trainer Eddy Reynoso as he discussed the plans for his charge: “We’re going to keep him at flyweight and try to defend and unify with [Kosei] Tanaka or Mthalane,” he told Peleamundo.
Mthalane responded positively to the challenge: “It is each and every boxer’s dream to fight for a unification,” he told Boxing Social. “I also want to fight in a unification bout for the WBC [title], it would be a dream come true. I’ve watched Martinez, he’s very good. He’s a young and promising champion, he’s very good, but I’d like to fight him, for sure. We’ll see, I’ll discuss that with my manager, but once everything is well, I’m in! We can make a strategy to defeat him. I do believe I can beat him for sure.”
Now Lee Eaton of MTK Global (Mthalane’s management group) has confirmed to Boxing Social that he believes the team would welcome the match-up. “MTK would 100 per cent be interested in that fight,” said Eaton. “Obviously, it’s all about the money being right for that fight. It’s a very hard fight. Jay Harris gave [Martinez] a good fight, he’s a very good fighter.”
Mthalane (39-2, 26 KOs) was once amongst the most avoided world champions in the sport. During his initial IBF title run, he only managed to make four defences in as many years, spending the entirety of 2013 inactive.
Since recapturing the belt in 2018, Mthalane has found it easier to secure meaningful fights. Top contenders and champions now frequently call out Mthalane even though he is unbeaten in over a decade, with his last loss coming against five-weight world champion Nonito Donaire in 2008. At 37, it is likely that his rivals believe this is the time to beat Mthalane.
“He is getting looked at as a soft touch, maybe because of his age, but he keeps producing the goods,” said Eaton.
If a fight with Martinez does not materialise, MTK have several intriguing in-house options for Mthalane, namely Sunny Edwards and Jay Harris.
“I’d love to see Jay Harris fight Moruti,” said Eaton. “The winner could then fight Martinez. Harris showed how good he is against Martinez. Sunny Edwards is coming through, too, he’s highly ranked with the WBO.”