JOHANNESBURG – Former world champion Thulani “Sugarboy” Malinga has expressed confidence that Zolani “Last Born” Tete will be crowned a unified champion in the near future.
Tete is currently in the UK for Saturday’s clash with Filipino Arthur Villanueva at Leicester Arena. The fight is an elimination scrap for the right to challenge Villanueva’s compatriot Marlo Tapales for his World Boxing Organization (WBO) Junior Bantamweight crown.
Tete, a former International Boxing Federation (IBF) champion, has made it clear he would like to be the undisputed champion of his division.
And Malinga believes he can achieve his goal.
“He is not just a good boxer, but he is clever too. And the fact that he is from Mdantsane, where they take boxing very seriously and the competition to get to the top is very high, will serve to inspire Tete,” said the man who fought numerous times in England against the likes of Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn (twice).
Malinga advised Tete to shut the crowd out, the fact that he’s not fighting an Englishman notwithstanding.
“He should focus on the job at hand. He must know that the noise of the supporters outside the ring will not do any harm to him. I know what I am talking about because I had some fights in London. I know the environment there. He must not allow the hostile crowd to pressurise him,” said Malinga, who is pained by South Africa’s current failure to produce classy world champions.
“I think currently, we don’t have managers who are passionate about boxing. Most of them simply meet the boxers at training, and don’t encourage the box to do cross training like jogging to build up stamina like we used to.”
He lamented the retirement of famed trainer Nic Durandt.
“In the 90s we had about eight champions because we had managers such as Nic Durandt," Malinga explained.
“He did not know much about boxing, but he had a passion and that was the reason he could produce so many champions. That passion of his rubbed off on his boxers. We need more managers like Durandt.”