31.03.07 – By Christopher Roche: When a top-five contender graces a boxing card, the show automatically morphs into a “must see” event. Featherweight Rogers “The Tiger” Mtagwa is expected to vault into the IBF’s top five world rankings next week, just in time for his April 11 bout against Terrence Roy at the Citadel in Charleston, SC.
Mtagwa, 22-11-2 (16 KO’s), is training hard in Philadelphia, and he looks to rebound after dropping a gut-wrenching split-decision to Martin Honorio back in November. Mtagwa seceded his USBA Featherweight Title after that razor thin defeat.. That match with Honorio was so grueling that there is talk Honorio may never fight again, because of a detached retina, and according to Mtagwa’s legendary promoter Russell Peltz, Mtagwa took a three-month break from boxing in the gym. Mtagwa started boxing again last week in preparation for the upcoming scheduled eight rounder.
Despite losing his title, Mtagwa exudes a calm, reserved confidence. While many athletes suffer through severe highs and lows, Mtagwa maintains a steady mental frame. Peltz described Mtagwa’s emotional outlook heading into the fight against Roy.
“Roger never gets too high or too low. He is very even”, explained Peltz. “When he won the USBA Title…he was very reserved, and when he lost it he was disappointed, but he maintains his composure pretty well.”
Mtagwa’s mental approach should help him bounce back against Roy, 9-20 (1 KO), who Peltz described as a typical solid opponent who fights all the tough guys. Peltz cautioned that every fight is dangerous, but he thinks it will be a great fight for Mtagwa who needs to get used to having a win under his belt again.
Peltz, who is also a preeminent boxing historian, believes that Mtagwa’s best days are ahead of him. Mtagwa just celebrated his 28 th birthday, and despite having a war in his last bout, Peltz pointed out that the two fights prior to the Honorio bout were knockouts for Mtagwa. Mtagwa did not take any punishment in those fights. Peltz also expects Mtagwa to move up into the top 5 when the new IBF rankings are released next week, since some of the fighters ahead of him suffered misfortune.
“First of all in boxing history it seems that fighters from Africa seem to mature as they get older…if we space out his fights right, the Honorio fight which he lost, was coming off of two spectacular knockout wins in which he didn’t take any punishment”, explained Peltz. “If we space his fights out right, I think he could be fighting for the world title by the end of this year. He should move up to about number five in the rankings, in the new IBF rankings next week when they are released because a lot of the guys ahead of him are either medically unfit or have gotten beaten lately.”
Peltz expects a positive atmosphere at the Citadel, and he advised that as long as the fights are solid, the fans will have a great time.
The fans will likely get more than they bargained for, as they will see a top five contender in action, and they will get a sneak preview of a fighter who could be vying for the world title in the very near future. Both fighters will be going on the road for this bout, as Mtagwa hails from Philadelphia, PA via Tanzania, and the 33 year-old Roy is from Covington, TN. The fight will take place in the featherweight division, and the card is being promoted by Andre Kut’s KEA Boxing.
I thank Danny Serratelli for setting up the interview with Russell Peltz. It was very informative to speak with the legendary promoter and historian.