Flyweight titlist Moruti Mthalane of South Africa is in the midst of learning a very hard lesson about his financial value -- or lack thereof.
During the summer, South African promoter Branco Milenkovic said that he offered Mthalane a $50,000 purse (plus the renewal of his promotional agreement) to fight his mandatory defense at home against Italy's Silvio Olteanu.
Mthalane (29-2, 20 KOs), 31, turned it down, gambling that if he forced the fight to a purse bid there might be some pot of gold for him in the winning bid. As it turned out, Ulf Steinforth's SES Promotions was the only bidder, winning the right to the fight for a stunningly low $12,500. With the purse split set at 85 percent for the titleholder and 15 percent for the challenger, Mthalane was due to make just $10,625 (before taxes, paying his trainer, etc.) with Olteanu getting a measly $1,875, less than many fighters make for a four-rounder.
The fight was scheduled for Sept. 13 and then shifted to Oct. 19 in Germany to be on the undercard of super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz's defense against Isaac Ekpo. However, it came as little surprise when Olteanu pulled out. He claimed a hand injury, even though the prevailing opinion is that he wasn't willing to fight for so little money.
With Olteanu out and the IBF not willing to wait for a mandatory challenger to heal from an injury, it went down its rankings to the next available contender, which was Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng (11-0, 5 KOs), and ordered that fight.
With no deal to be made, a purse bid was called and on Tuesday, Thai promoter Jimmy Chaichotchuang of Jimmy's Boxing was the only bidder, winning the rights to the fight for a mere $15,000. He has 90 days to put on the fight. The total was a little better than the $12,500 from the last purse bid, but this time Mthalane will have to go all the way to Thailand for the bout, for which he will receive just $12,750.
That's a big difference from the $50,000 for a hometown fight he was offered. It was Mthalane's gamble and he has now lost twice. Big time.
As Milenkovic told me this week, "He should have taken $50,000 from me."