Tokyo and East London may be worlds apart, but for a pair of South Africa’s world champions the two cities will link them as they go in search of glory one week apart.
On Monday, in the boxing hub of the Eastern Cape, Gideon Buthelezi will put his IBO junior-bantamweight championship on the line against dangerous Alex Marin of Romania.
A week later, South Africa’s pound-for-pound No 1, Moruti Mthalane, will defend his IBF flyweight championship against Akira Yaegashi in Japan.
Both tournaments will be broadcast live on SuperSport – Monday’s event will be on SuperSport 11 from 2pm and December 23’s action from Japan will be broadcast on SuperSport 10 from 1pm.
Monday’s fight card is stacked with superb matchups that also include fights featuring Athenkosi Dumezweni against Fernando Martinez of Argentina, former world champion Nkosinathi Joyi against Joey Canoy of Philippines, plus outings for Sibusiso Nyana Bandla, Siya Kuse, Emmany Kalambo, Siphamandla Baleni and several other top-rated boxers.
Buthelezi has gone on a long unbeaten run – he hasn’t lost in four years – but in Marin he faces arguably his toughest challenger. The US-based fighter is a former Olympian who has gone on a tear through the division and beat former champion Luis Concepcion in his last outing.
Mthalane, meanwhile, will extend his run of overseas action, his last three title bouts having taken place overseas. Japan was a happy hunting ground for his last title defence and he starts favourite against Yaegashi on a card that includes two other world title fights: Ryota Murata against Steve Butler for the WBA middleweight belt and Kenshiro Teraji and Randy Petalcorin for the WBC light-flyweight belt.
Former champion Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez also features.