South Africa’s Mthalane (37-2, 25 KO) edged Muhammad Waseem in a fun battle on the Pacquiao-Matthysse undercard to recapture the vacant IBF belt, then dominated Masahiro Sakamoto in Macau on New Year’s Eve. His previous reign, which started in 2009, included knockouts of Zolani Tete and Johnriel Casimero.
Kuroda (30-7-3, 16 KO) has fought just once outside of his native Japan, a 2015 loss to Mario Andrade in the latter’s native Mexico City. His greatest accomplishment is probably a 2012 draw with Ryoichi Taguchi, as he lost a world title bid against Juan Carlos Reveco and a Japanese title bid against future world challenger Suguru Muranaka.
Sucks to see Mthalane, who’s already 36, spinning his wheels instead of getting a crack at the other top flyweights, but mandatories be what they be.