Moruti Mthalane wants Charlie Edwards after tuning back challenge of Masayuki Kuroda in Japan

Anthony Cocks

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IBF flyweight champion Moruti ‘Babyface’ Mthalane 38-2 (25) has called for a unification bout with WBC counterpart Charlie Edwards 15-1 (6) after outpointing mandatory contender Masayuki Kuroda 30-8-3 (16) at the world famous Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan on Monday night.

The well-travelled Mthalane – who has fought in the US, Panama, Italy, Macau, Malaysia and now Japan – says he is prepared to travel to the UK for the unification bout.

“Charlie Edwards, I’ve been waiting to fight this fight. So now I’m ready, I won this fight so I’m looking forward to fight you,” Mthalane said.

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“Come on champ, let’s unify our titles. I’m ready. I will knock you out.”

The 36-year-old South African delivered an impressive performance against Kuroda, who proved to be a tough and worthy challenger, but it was Mthalane’s sharper punching that made the difference in the fight.

After 12-rounds of back-and-forth action the evergreen champion was awarded the victory by scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 116-112.

“I’m very much happy because I won the fight,” said Mthalane, who beat Japan’s Masahiro Sakamoto in his previous bout.

“How I won it, it doesn’t matter because I won unanimously. [Kuroda] surprised me because he is very strong compared to how he was watching him on the videos.

“Kuroda kept working. He wanted the belt and gave his best as a challenger.”

Mthalane received high praise from adviser Mike Altamura after the fight.

“Moruti Mthalane may be the best ring technician I’ve ever worked with,” Altamura said. “Tonight he fought off a tenacious Masayuki Kuroda to defend his world title at the historic Korakuen Hall in Japan.”

The 32-year-old Kuroda, who finished the fight with a swollen right eye and claret leaking from his left, said that the champion’s conditioning surprised him.

“Mthalane’s style is to box at close quarters, so I fought the way I had planned,” said Kuroda, who lost his only other world title challenge against Juan Carlos Reveco in 2013.

“I was landing body blows, and thought he might drop off (in pace), but (that wasn’t the case).”

“Compared to six years ago, I think I’m a stronger and calmer fighter.”

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