Waseem vs Mthalane: The Moment of Truth!
Hidden on the undercard of the Matthysse/Pacquiao clash in Malaysia is a major title bout between a very talented prospect and a respected former champion.
Who is Muhammad Waseem?
When Waseem (8-0, 6 KOs) isn’t making sparring partners quit at the Mayweather Gym, the 30 year-old is focused on making a name for himself. He has successfully garnered the attention of many boxing pundits with his work as a sparring partner. Similar to how champions like Errol Spence or Reymundo Beltran caught the attention of the boxing world initially.
However, the Pakistani-born fighter has traveled the world winning a number of tournaments as an amateur. This was the first inclination that he could be something special as a professional.
Waseem is the quintessential boxer-puncher. He can be found trying to read his opponent on the outside early behind his jab and subtle feints but, he is an inside fighter at heart. Once he establishes when he can move inside, he will dart in; particularly behind a left hook to the liver. At this point, he will unleash an arsenal of shots at close range until the opponent retreats or succumbs. Then, it is “rinse and repeat!”
He also possesses the ability to elude shots with superb upper-body movement on the inside. He always brings his hands home and judges when to place a particular punch well while in the phone booth.
His weakness would be the jab. If his opponent can establish a well placed jab and throw it at different speeds, it can confuse Waseem. A taller, established outside fighter with a reach advantage would give him some trouble because it would force him to fight one way. Of course the opponent will need to have good lateral movement as well to be the matador to the bull.
Who is Moruti Mthalane?
Mthalane (35-2, 24 KOs) is a 35 year-old former IBF Flyweight champion from South Africa. He is most known for his 2008 fight with Nonito Donaire, where he gave him some trouble before being knocked out in the sixth. He also is the first man to defeat WBO bantamweight champion Zolani Tete.
An extremely durable veteran, Mthalane has been in the ring with some of the top fighters at flyweight. Names like Hussein Hussein, John Riel Casimero, Julio Cesar Miranda, the aforementioned Donaire and Tete have mixed it up with him during his eighteen year career.
One criticism Mthalane received back in 2014 invloved him being stripped of the IBF title for not facing the dangerous Amnat Ruenroeng. He fought once more in 2015, then embarked on a semi-retirement where he did not return until April of 2017. He fought three times and positioned himself to regain the title he once lost.
But, will this be a case of age being too much of a factor? Mthalane in his prime had one of the most devastating straight right hands at the smaller weights. He nearly knocked Ricardo Nunez out of the ring with one in 2012. Although his last three wins were by knockout, the competition he faced does not do his achievement much justice.
This fight will truly be a war of attrition and is one you should not miss!
By: EJ Williams