Too much for our baby
MorutI "Baby Face" Mthalane lost his composure and literally cried like a baby on Thursday when he lamented the SABC's ongoing boxing blackout.
The IBF flyweight world champion from Lindelani, an informal settlement outside KwaMashu near Durban, said this undesirable situation had prevented him from defending his world title at home.
"I'm convinced I will not be able to defend my world title in KwaZulu-Natal," moaned Mthalane, who has made two defences in the City of Gold, where his skills are honed by Nick Durandt.
In total Mthalane has made four defences - two abroad. Three of them were forced mandatories.
"People at home have begged me to make at least one defence there but I can't tell my promoter Branco Milenkovic to take me down there when he doesn't have a television date.
"I think he can do that but where will he get the purse monies from? No sponsor will come to the party when there's no TV coverage."
He said there were talks that Boxing SA had clinched a deal with the SABC but nothing happened.
"Boxing has suffered for two years. I defended against Zolani Tete on September 1 2010 and Noni Tenge won the IBF female title from Daniela Smith in the undercard of that tournament," he said.
Despite being the first female world championship featuring a South African, that event, which was attended by sports minister Fikile Mbalula, did not enjoy live coverage.
Mthalane has made a plea to the KwaZulu-Natal government to help realise his dream of defending in the Banana City before his reign ends.
"I'm not going to be a world champion for ever," he warned, adding that the national government and the sports ministry should see to it that the SABC comes back to boxing.
"Sponsors will come back and the sport will boom," he reasoned. "I've had a personal sponsorship with Build-It since 2008 and all has been well. But things have changed.
"They're no longer interested because they say they're no longer getting mileage as I now fight abroad and those fights don't even get shown here, even at a later date."
He says fighting overseas is no child's play.
"The fight is organised by a foreign promoter who has no interest whatsoever in you. Also everything (the crowd, referee and judges) are against you. It's only you, your trainer and his assistant rooting for you when the whole arena of about 15 000 or more people are rooting for your opponent.
"Such occasions are overwhelming."
The short but stout champion stopped Andrea Sarritzu in five rounds in Italy on October 11 last year and did the same to Ricardo Nunez in eight rounds in Panama on September 1.
Mthalane's other two defences, a fifth round stoppage of Zolani Tete on September 1 2010 and the seventh round TKO against John Riel Casimero on March 26 last year took place in South Africa.
He won the title against Julio Cesar Miranda at Joburg's Wembley Arena on November 20 2009.
His IBF title eliminator against Hussein Hussein as well as the actual title fight against Miranda were televised live by SABC on Blow by Blow.
"But they've deserted me," he said adding that "only a few people in South Africa know me despite the fact that I'm the only legitimate world champion boxer in the country.
"I watched SA Sports Awards live on TV last week, where sports minister Mbalula honored all athletes who raised South Africa's flag high, but boxing was left out," he said as a parting shot.