Talk about a Christmas cracker of a great little fight between two “old” men. Earlier today in Kanagawa, Japan, IBF flyweight king Moruti Mthalane of South Africa stopped an incredibly gutsy and determined Akira Yaegashi in the ninth-round. The two men, with a combined 73 years, gave their all in a real sizzler.
Finally, after taking almost as much as he had dished out, 37 year old Mthalane broke down the man a year his junior, getting the TKO at the 2:54 mark of the 9th as the ref had seen enough. Now 39-2(26) and unbeaten since Nonito Donaire stopped him back in 2008 (16 wins on the spin, 11 by stoppage), Mthalane deserves a ton of credit for having done what he’s done. Yaegashi falls to 28-8(16) but he more than played his part in making a terrific fight today.
After a pretty steady opening couple of rounds, these two little giants really got down to it. The action was quite mesmerizing in the 4th, the 5th, and the 6th. The two traded for long periods, with scarcely a clinch in sight. Yaegashi, a fine body puncher, attacked the midsection mostly, while the defending champ went to head and body. Mthalane had his chin tested too, but neither man showed any willingness to yield.
Yaegashi was swelling up around the eyes but his stomach for battle remained strong. It was a close fight, a hard fight, a punishing fight (especially for two veterans), but in the end the champion who has made a habit of fighting on the road (in the U.S, in Italy, in Panama, in Malaysia and, in his last two fights, Japan) wore his man down. It looked as though Yaegashi might crumble in the eighth, as he almost sat on the bottom rope as Mthalane paid the challenger back for his earlier body attack.
The stoppage did come in the ninth, as the ref wrapped his arms around Yaegashi and saved him from any more punches. It could be argued that the fight could have gone on, but Mthalane had the upper hand now and there were no complaints after the third man did his job.
A fantastic fight, and thank heavens for YouTube that you can (and certainly should) catch this action-fight now.