Moruti Mthalane keeps flyweight belt

CAGLIARI, Italy -- Moruti Mthalane of South Africa successfully defended his IBF flyweight title for a third time Friday, stopping home favorite Andrea Sarritzu in the seventh round.

The referee intervened when Mthalane had the Italian reeling midway through the seventh and Sarritzu (32-5-4, 12 KOs) threw in the towel.

Mthalane (28-2, 19 KOs) won the belt by outpointing Julio Cesar Miranda in November 2009, and retained it by defeating Zolani Tete and Johnriel Casimero, stopping both in the fifth round.

The bout got off to a slow start with the fighters feeling each other out, but Mthalane soon had the 35-year-old Sardinian ducking and diving to avoid getting hit. The 29-year-old Mthalane began landing more blows, including several good combinations at the end of the third round and in the fourth.

Sarritzu tried to attack at the beginning of the fifth. He managed to get in a few jabs but eventually suffered too much from Mthalane's powerful lefts and had to concede.