In the final world title fight of the weekend we saw the IBF Flyweight title defended by South African Moruti Mthalane (29-2, 20) who viciously stopped the Panamanian challenger Ricardo Nunez (24-3, 20) in a fight of the year contender.
The bout started excellently for the champion who dropped the challenger with a single shot in the opening round. Although Nunez recovered to his feet he took a shelling to end the round and it appeared as if we were going to have a very early night on our hands as the champion couldn't miss. The champion again had the better of the action in the following round as he blocked most of Nunez's attacks and landed some picture perfect counters that appeared to shake the challenger time and time again.
In round 3 the bout took a total 180 and Nunez's relentless aggression was rewarded as he dropped the champion in the late stages of the round after the two men had had a tear up of a round. Nunez continued his onslaught successfully in the following round as he leveled the scores on my card at 37-37. Mthalane was forced mostly to cover up doing the 4th as Nunez went hell for leather looking to end the bout early.
At the start of the 5th it was Mthalane looked ragged as he swung and miss and it seemed as if South African boxing was going to have a nightmare of a night as Nunez kept throwing trying to again drop the champion. Although Mthalane was starting to look tired at the end of the round the challenger couldn't capitalise as the tempo of the fight started to drop after a crazy start.
Round 6 was the most nip and tuck of the rounds with both men having solid spells but neither man really standing out, though it was obvious that Nunez was on the verge of punching himself out. His crisp aggressive punching had started to look less crisp, his defense had started to look more porous and whilst it was the challenger bringing the fight it was also the challenger being tagged the harder. The following round saw Mthalane regain control of the bout against a visibly tiring Nunez who was starting to look incredibly inefficient as Mthalane snapped his head back and forced him backwards. It appeared as if the talented South African was about to take the fight down the stretch anticipating that Nunez would wear himself out.
The end of the bout came in round 8 with Mthalane taking advantage of Nunez's slower hands and lower work rate, everything the champion was throwing was landing and snapping the head of the challenger back. A single show seemed to hurt the challenger and the champion pounced unleashing a flurry, this had Nunez in trouble and trying to run across the ring to freedom. Mthalane refused to let his pray go and unleashed one of the most devastating and prolonged attacks you will see in a boxing ring this year as he volleyed a none stop combination to the head of Nunez. The referee stood idly by as Nunez took 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 clean blows, the referee seemed to want to give the challenger every chance but the fight was done as he kept watching on 13, 14,15,16 Mthalane wasn't going to stop until the referee called the bout. Nunez's unconscious was draped between the ropes by the time the referee had seen enough and finally stepped in several seconds too late.
Nunez looked to be awake by the time the broadcast cut off but he certainly looked to be a man who had taken a lot of unnecessary punishment due to some awful officiating.
For Nunez I expect a very long rest, at 24 I hope it's not the end of his career at the top level as he's fun to watch but the prolonged punishment at the end of the bout may well see his career all but done.
I'd also expect Mthalane to take a break, put his feet up and watch, with the rest of the world, as Brian Viloria and Hernan Marquez battle in a unification at Flyweight. I can only assume that Mthalane will be looking at the winner of that bout as his #1 target for next time out, maybe even on a major show in the US.