The tournament is billed as “Fight of Champions” and although he’ll be way down the card, South Africa’s Moruti “Baby Face” Mthalane could steal the show in Malaysia early on Sunday morning (SA time).
Mthalane is the first televised fight, with the main bout featuring WBA welterweight champion Lucas Matthysse against eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao.
The action will be broadcast live on SS5 from 2am Sunday, with highlights at 11am and 10pm. The full tournament will be re-broadcast on SS8 from 9am on Sunday.
Mthalane, who has been a professional for 18 years, has looked ferocious in gym, smashing sparring partners as he seeks to reclaim the IBF flyweight title he last held six years ago.
Mthalane is one of SA’s best fighters, a two-fisted dynamo with savage instincts. Seldom does he hurt an opponent without finishing him off. Indeed, he comes off a run of four straight knockouts.
In the other corner will be Muhammad Waseem of Pakistan, an unbeaten former amateur star who will have top trainer Jeff Mayweather in his corner.
Waseem may be unbeaten, but he’s never fought an opponent of Mthalane’s calibre. He’s slick and fast, but will face immense pressure from a fighter who sets traps and boxes relentlessly.
In the main event, this could be the last hurrah for the legendary Pacquiao, who looked ordinary in his last fight, losing over a year ago to little-known Jeff Horn. He’s since switched trainers and knuckled down in training, insisting that even at 39 he retains the hunger and skills to dominate.
He’s chosen a tough opponent to prove his case. Matthysse, from Argentina, is an aggressive puncher who is desperate to re-join the elite of the sport.
There’s a fascinating undercard fight that sees China’s Bin Lu attempt to win a professional championship in just his second fight, going for a record currently held by Vasyl Lomachenko and Saensak Muangsurin for the earliest professional world champion. Both won titles in their third fights.
Lu boxes Carlos Canizales for the WBA light-flyweight title.